Talking To Kids About Sex – 6 Things You Should Consider

A few weeks ago I posted a question for the parents on my page about talking to kids about sex. I asked what age they thought was the right age to start and I was sad to see that many parents thought that 15 was an appropriate age.

I know that we would all love for our children to become sexually aware from the age of 15 years old but let’s get real here…. by the time your child has reached 15 years old he or she has already past puberty and is I am sure already fully aware of what sex is. The problem here is that it has not been learned from you, it has come from another source which may be dubious.

Your child may already be fully sexually active and not know everything that he or she should know to keep himself or herself safe, physically as well as emotionally.

To any parent that thinks that 15 is a good age to start talking to kids about sex, I am concerned and I want to share my thoughts and experiences with you. I’ve teamed up with my good friend and counselor, Freddy van Rensburg, for a live session on my Facebook page to openly and honestly discuss the topic of talking to kids about sex.

Play the video at the top of this post to watch it.

Talking To Kids About Sex

My Personal Experience As A Child and Teen

As a young girl I remember listening to a record about sex education that my parents bought us. My younger sister and I used to listen to the one song in hysterics. I can’t remember the whole song, except for one line that went “you touch your own body, let me touch mine”.

Other than that I honestly can’t really remember having a discussion about sex with my parents. I do remember that there was a lot of embarrassment around the topic of sex.

When I went from a small primary school to a larger high school I was quite innocent. I did know what sex was but I was not very worldly on the topic.

When I was 12 years old I was very thoroughly humiliated when someone at the school started spreading rumours about me. Rumours that got to my parents. I remember my parents calling me in for a talk and they were so embarrassed, they said that people were talking about me. Apparently I was a slut and I was giving sexual favours at school in return for things.

According to rumour I gave a blow job on the school stage in exchange for a bicycle. My parents asked me about this and all I remember thinking was what on earth is a blow job… and do you see a new bicycle anywhere? And why the school stage of all places?

The next day I asked someone at school what a blow job was and I remember how ashamed I was when I found out.

The rumours kept coming and my parents kept talking to me about them, much to our mutual embarrassment and shame.

When I was 14 years old I had my first kiss followed a few hours later by being raped by the boy I had kissed. When I was 15 years old I was raped again.

Shortly after that I started acting out sexually and my journey into alcoholism, addiction and shame was well on it’s way.

Now I can say from personal experience that addressing sex with a 15 year old is going to be way too late. That ship has probably sailed a long time ago and it could be heading into a storm.

Talking to kids about sex needs to start way earlier than that.

Talking To Kids About Sex

This is not a simple topic, talking to kids about sex needs to be broken up into a number of different areas that need to be addressed. So here are the things that I feel need to be looked at.

Sex and Shame

The reason why I want to get into this topic first is that my personal experience of sex from a very young age was that sex was something to be whispered about, something shameful and embarrassing.

If we convey this shame and embarrassment when we talk about sex with our children chances are good that they are going to feel that sex is something to be embarrassed about.

I feel that it is important to be able to talk openly with our kids without embarrassment which will help them to face the topic of sex, puberty, menstruation and all related topics in a mature way. It will also enable them to ask us questions easily when they want to know something.

Private Parts and Touching

The first thing to discuss with our kids will be private parts and what is appropriate touching and what is not.

I remember when my daughter was two years old and I was changing my newborn son’s nappy. She looked at him and said he has a tail. I said no, he is a boy so he has a penis. We are girls so we have vaginas.

It is important to use the proper names so that they know what the correct term is. As a parent I would love to stick my head in the sand and pretend that molestation does not exist… but sadly it does exist and knowing the correct terminology protects your child. Children who are aware of the correct name for genitals can better disclose to an adult if something is happening that shouldn’t be.

A 1995 study shows that children that had a good knowledge and understanding of their genitals, including the correct terminology were more likely to be avoided by sexual predators.

It is also important to link this back to the point about shame. We don’t create pseudonyms for other body parts and we should not do it for our genitals. We should not be ashamed of any of our body parts and coming up with other names implies that we should keep those parts of our body secret, that it is shameful and embarrassing.

We should however explain to our kids from a young age that some parts are private and should not be touched by anyone else.

It is also important to let our children know that while some parts of our body are not considered private it is their right to say that they don’t like being touched somewhere or in a certain way.

My son for example just loves hugs, kisses and cuddles. My daughter on the other hand has said she does not like to be kissed or hugged. She needs to know that she can exercise her right not to be kissed and cuddled even though as her mother I would love to.

Talking about genitals and touching is something I have done since my kids were babies. You cannot start too early with this.

Answer Their Questions

Forget about the stork bringing babies.

If your child asks you a question answer it with facts and leave the shame at the door. You don’t have to go into too much detail at a young age but answer your child’s question directly and simply.

If your child asks another question that asks for more detail give them the right answer.

Mother and son

Discussing Puberty

Talking about puberty is part of talking about sex. The changes that your child is going to go through are going to be confusing, scary and possibly embarrassing for your child.

It is important that your child knows ahead of time what is going to be happening to her or his body and why.

Children are hitting puberty at a younger age than before and teenage pregnancy is increasing all the time. Children that are well educated about sex and puberty will be at an advantage.

It is within the normal range for girls to start menstruating any time between the age of 9 and 16 years old, with some girls starting their period long before that.

To make sure that your child is educated about puberty before it hits your child should know what to expect such as public hair, armpit hair, breasts forming, menstruation, testicles and penis enlarging, voice breaking, wet dreams, raging hormones and acne.

Talking To Kids About Sex

I personally believe that along with a child understanding what changes will happen in his or her body they should know why. The body is preparing for procreation – and yes that means sex.

I personally believe that when you discuss puberty with your child you should also ensure that your child understands about sex. How it all physically works as well as being emotionally mature enough for sex.

Things that need to be covered are respect, emotions, sexual abuse, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and relationships.

Talking About Sex Is Not Grooming Your Child For Sex

I have spoken to a lot of parents that feel that talking to their child about sex may make their child go ahead and have sex. This makes no sense to me.

I wish that I had been better prepared for sex, rape, sexual abuse and all the things that came along for me. I wish that I had trusted my parents more and not been embarrassed to talk about sex.

I do not want my children to be sexually active from a young age, but I do want to fully prepare them for what they might encounter in their lives. I want my children to be mature about sex and make the right decisions. To protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, from unplanned pregnancy and from emotional turmoil.

Above all I want my children to be able to talk to me so that I can help them along this tricky journey and that starts with me opening the conversation.

What are your thoughts on talking to kids about sex?

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  1. Fadia Van Witt

    I have adult kids, will this page be beneficial 😊

    • Well do your adult kids have kids? LOL

      • This is such an important topic. We see a lot of teen pregnancies in government facilities, especially after the holidays 🙁

      • Lynne Huysamen

        Yes I’m sure Tamryn. My best friend fell pregnant at 15 years old and her son is my godson. It was so hard for her and she did a fantastic job under the circumstances… I got to see close up how it can change a girl’s life. Dropping out of school, trying to get a job, the stigma and so much more. Especially when she is all on her own with the father of the baby not around.

      • Elizabeth karabo

        This topic is essential to parents who do not know how to discuss this issue with their children and it gives them hints on how to go about this issue

    • Nevette Greyvenstein

      Thank you for this.. my daughter is turning 12 and I’ve been dreading “THE TALK”

  2. My Twin daughters 14 years old, still asks me to buy them dolls. They are always in the house busy with drawings or watching cartoons. I’m Blessed💝 I think the right age would be 18/19 years of age but we all know that, that’s not happening.

    • Patricia von Meyer

      My niece is 12 years old and she is already asking questions about sex. I try to keep our conversations PG but I feel the conversation should take place when you as a parent feel that your child is mature enough.

  3. I think its very difficult! You need to know how to say the right thing as it will lead to more questions. But I do think you should educate your child before there friends do or before anyone else does

  4. My son is special needs he is going to be 13 soon. He has been experiencing the change of his body. Luckly for me he understand it is him getting bigger but the big topic hasnt risen yet. I hope i can do the “talk” without crying one day. When i found out about all my changes i learned in school and my mother was shocked that that responsibility was taken from her. My son will ask one day but for now he is my big baby boy who still needs his mom for somethings. Imagine how hard it is for a child with special needs to open up about anything. He still believes in the magic of santa and tooth fairy and the easter bunny.

    • Ah a topic we never covered in the video – special needs! I’m sure that the circumstances are quite different and it needs to be handled a lot more delicately. Thanks for asdding your thoughts and experience in this area Mercia.

    • What age is best to do this talk

      • Lynne Huysamen

        I don’t think that there is just one talk and that’s it Sean. I think that talking about genitals and appropriate touching needs to start from a very young age. So when you teach your kids the names for their other body parts throw in the penis and vagina too!

        Talking about puberty really needs to happen before it starts and it should be an ongoing discussion. I would think that 8 or 9 years old is a good time. I talk to my 8 year old girl and my 6 year old boy about puberty often already. So they both know that their bodies will change one day. And I believe that that topic of sex needs to come around the same time as the puberty talk. It is all related and if you can manage to have an open discussion regularly about these things it will be best.

    • Ennie livhuwani Muleya

      My boy doesnt even want to hear me talking about it with him…he will be like “nooooo mom…not now”…he too shy

      • Lynne Huysamen

        Haha I’m sure lots of kids find it embarrassing, but the talk needs to happen at some stage 🙂

  5. I surely think by the age of 10 one should start talking about sex to one’s child as by then they know more a less about sex , well in today’s age their are kids even having sex themselves. However parenting talks about sex with one’s child at the age of 10 could be more comforting and understanding than what saying goes around.

  6. Asavela Siqangwe

    Great topic but always not so easy to talk about. Such platforms are more needed so that parents can read about other people’s opinions based on the decisions they make.

    • Paseka Mamakoko

      This is so helpful, I have to admit I’ve always found the topic a bit difficult to talk about so, this will give me a head start.

      • Lynne Huysamen

        Yes it is totally a difficult topic, but so important!

      • Love this!! So important to be open with children and teach them the risks so they can feel comfortable talking to you about it and not finding incorrect information by themselves

      • Lynne Huysamen

        That is exactly it Shimeez – happy Friday, I hope you have a superb weekend!

  7. Asavela Siqangwe

    Great topic but always not so easy to talk about. Such platforms are more needed so that parents can read about other people’s opinions based on the decisions they make. I have a 4 year old too many questions already but handling it quiet well lol

    • Lynne Huysamen

      It is great if you have a kid that asks questions Asavela – it gives you an opportunity to start discussions in my opinion. I think it will be much harder to start a conversation when the child doesn’t initiate it. I have found that both my kids are very inquisitive and ask loads of questions.

  8. Wow, thank you for sharing your story. As it be, my parents never had a talk with me either. When I was in primary school a friend of mine brought a book to school one day about how babies are made – hence where I learned what sex was. Still no in depth detail as to the do’s and don’t’s. I would also agree that 15 is way too late to talk to your kids about this subject. In today’s world kids grow up way faster than we did and the internet is a dangerous place, especially when some kids see pages in regards to sex and then they tell friends who then spread it again. What if they come across a porn site and see a video of what looks like a rape or sex with multiple partners? They will think it’s normal and not know how to be safe. I would think that every parent should decide what age they want to start slowly teaching their kids about sex and how to be safe, and also encourage them that if someone did something inappropriate to them that they should immediately tell someone they trust. I hope your post gets seen by many parents so that they can be aware of the dangers of having the ‘talk’ too late xx

    • Lynne Huysamen

      Jannelene that is exactly it – there are so many ways for kids to learn about sex at a young age – ways that are dangerous and will have a long lasting and negative impact. I want to discuss porn with my children long before they see it… because let’s face it they will come across it at some stage. I need them to understand that what they see is not real and not to get sucked into that. It creates such unrealistic expectations for young minds.

  9. Being a mother of 3 boy’s is very challenging, eldest being 10 years old. I would like to educate my eldest myself before he learns about it at school or from friends, but I for some reason don’t know how to start the conversation 🙈 and then there’s the fear of him having questions I wouldn’t know how to answer. Things has changed so much, like our children are growing up way to fast. I would probably only have learnt about sex in my late teen years, but in today time our children are sexually active at such a young age. I would probably need lots of guidance when it comes to this

    • Lynne Huysamen

      Yes for a mom to talk to her boys it is much harder in my opinion. My daughter is 8 and my son is 6 so my daughter will be the first to navigate these things. I do find it much easier to talk to my girl, but I will get to it with my son too. Also I can hand over some of the responsibility to my husband when it comes to my boy!

    • Priscilla Dippenaar

      Ah, I have a daughter. And I make sure to let her feel confident in asking and talking to me I feel it’s very important

  10. I believe the earlier the better. When I was in school, grade 3, standard 1, 8 years old, my teacher taught my class all about it. It wasn’t part of the curriculum, she just felt that we all needed to know some things. At that age it was funny to the class, everyone giggled the whole way through, but to this day, I, and a few friends, still remember that lesson, and a lot of us are really grateful for it. For some that was the only talk they were ever given about it. For my kids one day, I would like to be the one they hear it from, not someone else. I want an open relationship with my kids, I want them to be able to talk to me about anything, so I myself believe that the earlier you start, the better, but obviously not too young now. I think you will get a feel for when the time is right for you and them.

    • Lynne Huysamen

      Well sex can be quite funny so nothing wrong with a bit of giggles. It is great that you had that introduction at school, and I am completely on board with you – I want my kids to hear it from me.

  11. This page is so informative and beneficial

  12. I feel like sex is a good topic to talk about with a child once they become a teenager. The child should know the information before any other person let him/her know

  13. Thanks for all of these tips, I dread the day I have to have the talk with my kids! But mine are still babies so I have lots of time to prepare.

  14. I saw an article recently that said that most boys are watching porn by the age of 10 – I was quite shocked when I read that! The earlier you start talking to your kids about set the better!

  15. Very insightful. My kids are now 9 and 12. We still need to have the chat, especially my 12 years old daughter. She’s read books, started her period a year ago already, but she’s still very innocent

  16. Chevonne Poole

    I decided with my son who is almost 21 that i wouldnt shy away from this topic.and as soon as i felt he was old enough we had these convos.they were never awkward and today we can laugh about it.My daughter is 11 and i am very open with her as well. We can talk openly about this and even though she gets shy i rather have her shly educated.

  17. I think a little information at a time, while giving the full picture if that’s possible_depending on the child’s intellect and ability to understand things as age and surroundings are important factors to take into account. I think it’s important for parents to read blogs on topics like this as well to keep informed on different perceptions and ways to go about approaching this topic with their kids. For me I feel it’s a natural topic to have one day and I don’t fear telling the truth. I would probably approach it with a scientific approach then try my best to explain the spiritual/religious side of it.

    • Lynne Huysamen

      That is fantastic that you feel comfortable discussing this with your kids, that will really help make it easier and to give your kids a healthy understanding of the topic.

  18. Leentjie Erasmus

    I will for sure keep this blog post for future for my 2 boys !!

  19. My daughter is 4. I’ve been teaching her, since she could understand fully, what her private parts are called, it goes by what it is. I don’t want her to ever feel ashamed or scared to talk to me about anything. Open lines are important when it comes to sex education.

    • Lynne Huysamen

      You’ve got a great head start Charmain and I totally agree that we need to tackle the issue of shame head on!

    • Sorry about what happened to you.. hope you have healed from those experiences. This topic is so important and I also agree that it should be done as early as possible. As much as it educates them, but it also will keep them from, or help them in bad experiences as well.

  20. Annelise Pollock

    I remember i was friends with a girl who was 13 in grade 6,she was obviously a lot more well developed than the rest of us. I was only 11. Her, myself and ankther friend used to have sleepovers every weekend. She was the one who “educated” is about sex. At that age she was already experimenting with high school boys. And as a teacher I have to say, talk to your kids as early as possible, grade 4 and 5s these days are talking openly about it with their friends. Personally, as a mom, I’d want to facts coming from me and not friends. I have 2 boys (thankfully?? When it comes to the topic of Sex i guess!!) and I’d want them growing up firstly respecting themselves when it comes to sex but most importantly respecting others and their choices.

  21. Arista Sheingold

    It is always better for your child to hear it from you and it is facts instead of hearing false information.

  22. Absolutely brilliant take on these issues. Infact I bought a book for my son too. His almost 15 years old. It’s kinda good to read called Lets Talk about sex. We believe in open communication and that he hears it from us. In terms if further reference that’s a good book. Love the openness of tge blog.

    • Thank you for sharing that book Natasha, I have been talking to my kids about sex but I do think perhaps a good book will give them something to read and look at in their own time. It certainly can’t hurt.

  23. Lizelle de klerk

    I agree 200% with this article. I believe that kids, especially these days, need to know what sex is about before they try to find out on their own. That normally ends up in disaster. Sex is a very normal and healthy part of a maraige, but if we scare our kids by not wanting to be open about it and talk about it, that is when it becomes a shameful story.

  24. my parents didn’t tell me anything about sex, let alone periods and just assumed I knew. My first period was traumatic and when I found out I was having little girls I vowed that I would do things differently. I have always been so open about everything and given them accurate answers (age related) to all of their questions. They already know what periods are at 4 years old and why we have them. In this world, a soon as they are able to understand about sex, I will happily tell them everything and hopefully they will come to me with any problems they might face instead of facing them alone. There shouldn’t be so much shame attached to sex, especially for girls.

    • I am so sorry that you went through that Shelley, it must have been so traumatic for you! I totally agree with you, we must be open and teach them without shame so that they can have a healthy attitude towards sex, puberty and everything else that comes along with that. Both my children know about periods and why women get them.

  25. This is a topic that scares me to talk to my daughter about because I fell what if say something wrong or cant answer a question and what is the right and wrong age to have this talk… I never got the talk I heard what I heard in school and that was it so me giving the talk will be hard but this article helps thanks Lynne

    • Honestly I feel it is better to hear it from your parents first rather than the school or anyone else! And yes I have to admit it is daunting, but it is not as bad as you think and you can have some giggles with your kids too.

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