As children transition from home to a school setting, it becomes increasingly important to keep the communication lines open. It is during this transition that your child gains an increase of both positive and negative influences. When my eldest daughter went to school she started coming home with some very interesting ideas about sexuality. I soon discovered that my daughter was hearing secondhand information from the girl that sat next to her in class.
With an increase in external influences, it is often a good idea to start giving your children a few more details about sex. Before freaking out, I encourage you to just take a breath. I realize that this may seem like an extremely young age to talk about sex, but if you don’t share with your children who will? Remember our children are like sponges, if you don’t give them accurate information, chances are that they will begin to soak up misguided information from peers, a personal experience, or the Internet. When parents are a safe source of information, however, children are more likely to direct questions to this source versus looking it up on their own or asking others.
Something else to be aware of at this age is pornography. What? MY child looking at… Porn? No way! Well, I understand your sentiments, but according to Focus on the Family, some researchers state that many kids with access to computers have their first exposure to pornography around the age of eight. It starts out innocent enough, but often becomes a silent addiction. Most often, kids will simply search Google to find out what sex is or other unknown words and will innocently stumble upon pornographic sites. Kids will even show other kids pornography around this age. Many children do not have parents that they can truly talk to about these sorts of things, because their parents either get mad at them, are not a safe place to actually asks questions, or are embarrassed to answer openly and honestly. This is why it is of upmost importance for parents to truly have a grasp on what they are going to share, when they are going to share, and how they are going to share. A plan of action is important. Parents, make sure that you are talking amongst yourselves about this topic!
Before delving into the sex talk, I would suggest focusing on teaching your younger children godly morals. This might consist of talking to your children about modesty, appropriate entertainment choices, and music. As a family, you could memorize Philippians 4:8 together. This verse helps instill an understanding of seeking what is true, pure, lovely, and admirable. Actions are more important than words. I would encourage you to not only talk about modesty, but also model it for your daughters. While my daughters were young, I would help them navigate through appropriate choices at the store. When we got home, my daughters would model their clothes for my husband. This was a fun way to talk about modesty and make sure that both parents felt comfortable with the fashion choices. Sometimes this meant that we would return a shirt or skirt, but it was all a learning process for our family. When my husband would go shopping with my girls, he would encourage a conversation about modesty by talking to them about how many of the girls on the magazine covers needed more clothing. He would explain that he wanted to protect our girls from unsafe people by helping them make wise and modest choices. This taught our daughters that modest is a way to honor themselves and those around them.
Some things to consider regarding media choices:
- Help your children navigate media choices by looking over “Purity Guide for Your Eyes: Navigating our Sexually Saturated World.”
- Limit your children’s TV and video exposure. According to a recent study by KFF, the average program features five or more sexual references per hour. In addition, only 9 percent of these widely watched shows ever mention responsible behavior, such as abstinence or using contraception.
- Don’t allow laziness and pride to prevent you from changing an inappropriate movie. The kids may complain but it’s a great teachable moment. (Phil 4:8)
- Just because a movie is rated PG it doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for your children.
- Be sure to explain the whys behind your decisions.
- When at a friend’s house, have your children call for permission about movie choices.
While modesty is a huge topic for young girls, it is helpful to begin to talk to boys about what it means to be a gentleman. Fathers, model this for your sons by opening the door for your wife and being respectful of other women. Once again, children learn best from example. Talk to your boys about appropriate language and use appropriate language yourself. Our family would allow our daughters to use whatever words we used. This held us to a higher standard. Sometimes, we would use an inappropriate word and our daughters would catch us. It was humbling at times, but we would apologize to our daughters, and by doing so, once again raise the standard. In addition to using appropriate language, talk to your boys about pornography. This is prevalent amongst young men and is a wise thing to begin to discuss at a young age. It is impossible to avoid seeing sexually stimulating material, but you can teach your sons how to properly view women and honor them with their minds. Obviously this will be a topic addressed as your children continue to grow up, but it is good to dialogue with your children about it from an early age and show them what to do with the things that they see and how to make wise choices.
I am sure your head is spinning. The idea of talking to your young child about sex is probably a bit daunting. Let me remind you that this is just a suggestion. If your child is being homeschooled you might consider teaching them a bit later, but it is important for you to be aware of the risk of waiting to give the talk or simply avoiding it all together. When parents are silent, children learn from another source. Oftentimes, this source is inaccurate or leads to unnecessary experimentation.
Recommended Resources for ages 5-8