We spoke to author and educator Anju Kish about some pertinent questions about sex and children to help you initiate the talk in the right manner. Here is a lowdown of the interview:
How should parents answer questions related to sex?
I don’t think parents can ever prepare themselves enough to answer sex-related questions. You can expect a 13-year-old asking you about crushes, but what if your 9-year-old asks you? The most important thing to know is that never scold your child when he asks a question or never ever laugh at their question. The right way to go about it is to accept the question with a straight face and also answer with a straight face. Appreciate the child for coming up to you with the question. You can ask for time to answer a question too. Read up and do your research as it will ensure that you keep the doors of communication open. If you can, as a parent, convince your child that no question is silly, you are doing a great job! Make them believe that no subject is a taboo at home.
Kids become curious about their bodies and may ask questions about their genitals or touch them often. Their questions often have no modesty. How should parents handle it?
The first mistake we make is of not teaching our children the right names of the genitals. Do not give pet names to their genitals. You have to quip your child with the right vocabulary. Also, touching genitals as a young child is okay because for them, it feels good just like it does when they get a head massage or back massage. But do have a conversation. Tell them certain things are only done in privacy. If it becomes an addiction, create a code word to tip them every time they do it publicly. Don’t scold or make them feel guilty about it because then they will think there is something horribly wrong.
What is the right age to talk to kids about sex?
There is no right or wrong age to talk to the child about sex. If the child has voiced a question, answer it age appropriately. If they ask ‘What is sex?’, give them a brief about it without indulging in too many details. Because if you don’t answer, they will look for answers on the Internet. They should know that no question related to sex is negative.
What is the right age to curtail nudity at home?
Kids will be curious about their genitals because we tell them they should stay covered. While growing up, most kids play Doctor Doctor, which is a manifestation of their curiosity. They want to know if their bodies are different. Talk to them about privacy – both theirs and those around them. Show them illustrations and pictures of male and female body and how they will change as they grow. Tell them that because of this difference, girls sit and pee, and boys stand while peeing. Don’t scold them for being curious about their genitals. Instead, make it a teachable moment. Show them pictures illustrations and grab every opportunity when your child asks you a question. This way you will open doors of communication and know what your child is thinking.