Let’s Talk Sex – The Curiosity of Toddlers

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I am sure the title of this post was a bit disconcerting. After all, what on earth could you possibly teach your 2-5 year-old about sex? It may seem like a strange thing to discuss with young children, but it is an important topic to start covering from a young age.

Children soak up information like a sponge. As parents, you can help fill that sponge with a healthy view of sex. While your young child may not need to learn about sex, they should start learning about their identity as a boy or a girl. For instance, you can start by explaining how God created them male or female and it was good (Gen 1:27). Explain to your child that they were made in God’s image and He doesn’t make mistakes. They are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made.” From this place it is healthy to properly identify body parts. The honest and matter-of-fact differentiation between body parts will help lay the framework for explaining how certain body parts are off limits to others, because they are special. This is important, because many children around this age become curious about the human body.

Since curiosity is natural and to be expected, it’s helpful to clarify their questions being sure to understand exactly what is being asked and the context of the question as we don’t want to provide to much information to soon.  Thus remember to respond to their questions with a question, “That’s a good question, what do you mean? Where did you hear that? Etc…

One way to help children differentiate body parts is to teach them during bath time. Have them name their various body parts by turning it into a game. The great thing with this is that they are already undressed. If they have a sibling of the opposite gender or if they have seen either parent undressed, they are probably already inquisitive about the differences. Kids are very curious during this age and learn best from life experiences. You can even teach them from nature or everyday situations, such as the neighbors cat have kittens or the woman at the coffee shop that is nursing her newborn baby. There are so many avenues for being honest and open with your child. Use this curiosity to your advantage by responding honestly. Honesty is important, because it helps establish trust with your child from a young age. 

Being honest with your child includes using proper anatomical terms versus using slang words for their private parts. It might be uncomfortable for you at first, but this terminology is foundational as it can prevent both confusion and future embarrassment when the correct terminology is used. Oftentimes, parents choose to use slang words to prevent their children from talking about their body parts when they shouldn’t, but this does more harm than good. Instead of making up funny words for each part, focus on teaching your children concepts such as privacy, modesty, and respect. Role-play with your children what these concepts might look like in public or private settings.

By demonstrating these concepts to your children, you are building a reference point for them about what is acceptable both for them and for others. If your children know that touching another person’s private parts is wrong, they will also begin to understand that being touched in those same areas is not acceptable and they will know to talk to you about it. You can give your children practical examples of what is okay touch and what is inappropriate. This might help shield them from molestation. Unfortunately, this is a necessary conversation to have with your young children. You can teach them by simply being aware of their curiosity, answering questions, explaining the difference between boys and girls, and talking about good versus bad touch. Inadvertently, these same things instill trust in your children and show them they can truly talk to you about anything. It will remove any embarrassment that they might feel and will keep the communication open. Abuse is significantly reduced when our children receive a simple, calm description of what kind of touching is inapposite and the assurance that you will be there for them should anyone touch them.

As you begin to talk to your children about good versus bad touch, it is important to have a plan for what you will say should your child masturbate. Many parents shame their children for this. In return, their child will learn to become secretive. This secrecy could lead to other sexual experiences in the future simply because their parents punished them for their natural curiosity versus keeping the communication open with their child. Instead of shaming your children, I encourage you to explain that their curiosity is natural and simply let them know that touching their private parts in public is not appropriate. Along with this, I would calmly redirect them to another activity. Oftentimes, children masturbate because there is a lack of comfort in the home. Punishing them only heightens this. Typically, children outgrow this, but it is important to decide in advance how you will handle this should it arise as it can be a problem for boys and girls usually between the ages of two to six and again between the ages of twelve and twenty.

With a basic understanding of their identity and differentiation between body parts at a young age, you are setting a healthy foundation for future talks on sexuality. A lot of material was covered, but these foundation years are important. If you want to raise children with purity, integrity, and a healthy view of sexuality, it is beneficial to raise them in an environment that values these very things and keeps the communication between parent and child open from the start.

Recommended Resources:

Have your toddlers shown a natural curiosity?  What resources have you found helpful?



Let’s Talk Sex – Unpack Your Baggage For the Health of Your Marriage & Family

everyone-you-meet-comes-with-baggage

We all enter marriage with personal baggage. This baggage can greatly impede the health of a marriage. As pre martial counselors, my husband and I have been amazed by how many couples are clueless to how their past affects them. We have seen firsthand the scars that were created from previous physical, emotional and sexual abuse. These scars are real and are often in need of healing. An individual with sexual sin, for instance, will unknowingly carry shame into the relationship if it is not addressed beforehand. Premarital counseling is a great place to begin to unpack the baggage and establish healthy communication skills. These same skills are extremely important when parents begin to talk to their children about sexual integrity.

While this does not always happen, it is beneficial for a couple to discuss their understanding of sex before having children. Decide together what you desire your kids to know about sex and when and how you would like to tell them. Together create a value statement such as, “We desire our kids to know that sex is a good gift from God to be used in the context of marriage.” It is important that children understand the beauty and boundaries of God’s gift. If your children are older it’s never to late to start. Oftentimes, however, our own insecurities can keep us from sharing. In that case, now is the time to begin to deal with those insecurities. These insecurities often include:

  • Being uncomfortable with your own sexuality – how we were taught or not taught about sex.
  • We’ve not built a solid foundation or strong relationship with our children and now feel it’s too late.  Regardless of their age or the past, it’s NEVER too late to start building this relationship.
  • Current sexual addiction, an affair of the heart, etc. fosters shame and hypocrisy to make you feel unqualified to talk to your children.
  • Many parents today also fear that their own current or past sexual sins may disqualify them from speaking to their children with authority. Past failures must not prevent you from calling your child to the standard of God’s word.  We’ve all lied but we still teach our children to tell the truth.
  • FEAR that you don’t have all the answers. You don’t have to be an expert just be real and honest.  It’s ok to say, “great question, I don’t know but I’ll get back to you.”
  • Fear you will encourage unhealthy behavior or experimentation.
  • My kids will not listen to me.
  • I didn’t learn about sex from my parents and I turned out okay.

Before talking to your child about sex, it is helpful to be aware of the other sources they are likely to encounter information from. These sources include media, friends, school curriculum, magazine covers, billboards, etc…

With the onslaught of sexual messages, it is not advised to just wing the conversation.

Have ongoing open communication with your child early on. Talk about the importance of God’s standards when you sit at home, as you drive all over town carpooling, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:7).  Teaching our children is a 24/7 job. Don’t forget you have two ears for a reason so remember to listen more than you offer advice. Talking and listening are very important but not enough. Be available. It is extremely helpful to spend regular time together and to do things with your child as they need to know they can come to you with their questions.

Resources to help you become a more informed sex educator 😉 for your child:

I know there are numerous resources available.  I’ve listed items I am familiar with and that I have used to educate myself with and I encourage you to do the same. Please share recommended resources so we can learn from one another.  



Let’s Talk Sex – Who Me?

So many helpful resources. These are just a few from our library.

So many helpful resources. These are just a few from our library.

Last month, I was talking to my daughter, Courtney, sharing that I had been invited to speak to a group of moms from a local private school. I would be sharing with these ladies the importance of teaching our children about sex.  The mom who invited me had heard me give this talk back in 2007 the school our youngest attended. This friend’s eldest child was in first grade and she was greatly influenced.  Courtney shared how grateful she was that we had been so open and honest in regards to having candid sex talks with her as she knew many peers who were not comfortable about the topic of sex and/or their sexuality as their parents were challenged in sharing.   I am grateful that I did not allow my past hurts and failures in this area to paralyze me from sharing with my daughters and others as talking about sex has been an incredible opportunity to develop a rich and rewarding relationship with each daughter plus other gals I have been privileged to mentor. 

 

When I was conceived, my parents were merely dating and forced into a turbulent marriage that last six years.  My biological father desperately desired a son and missed out on relationship with me because of his male chauvinistic tendencies.  I never understood why I felt inferior as a female which  became clearer when I was given my baby book where I found a signature card signed by my father reading “maybe we’ll have better luck next time.” I struggled with my personal identity well into adulthood until I found my true DADDY, God who loved and chose me at the age of 25. Until that time I doubted my worth as I had been rejected and suffered emotional, verbal and sexual abuse.  Even though sex was not discussed I knew a lot at a very young age which was confusing.  Children who struggle with rejection tend to seek love in unhealthy relationships without really understanding what love is, as was so with me.   My hurt was deep and caused me years of pain.

god is love

In 1985 I married my husband who has loved me extremely well over the last 30 years. Together we have learned what love truly is.  1 John 4:8 “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  God love me unconditionally. Having put my faith in His love was the beginning of my emotional healing.  I also sought professional counseling on my road to wholeness.  Today I know that ALL things work together for good.  My past is a beautiful part of God’s story of hope, love, and redemption.  When I became a mom I became hyper diligent in protecting my children so sought ways to protect them physically and emotionally.  So for many, many years this topic has fascinated me.

So what qualifications do I have to talk about sex?  I have read many books and articles on this topic as I sought to obtain a biblical and healthy view regarding sex to reeducate myself and share with my children. I’m far from being an expert but I believe more so today than ever, parents need to be having “the talk” in an ongoing conversation that starts early as we are living in a sexually saturated world. My husband and I lead couples through an intense premarital curriculum and also do lay marital counseling.  We are no longer surprised by what we hear.  I have spoke to several moms groups on this topic and always have mom who has not had the talk with their teens. Let’s just say I am passionate about equipping others.  My desire is to help others protect their child’s future health and happiness both emotionally and physically.  My hope is to take away the fear and help you start an ongoing, honest dialogue with your children so they will one day say, “thank you mom for teaching me about God’s view of sex,” like my daughter did.  

Thus I began a series “Let’s Talk Sex.”  It will probably end up being about 12+  post which means one to two each week.   I will address what to focus on among the various ages groups (2-5, 5-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14+), plus share my thoughts about the influence media has on our children.  I will share about how we did our daughters purity parties and much more.

 If you have any specific questions or suggestions please let me know as I hope to make this informative and interactive.