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You should talk about sex to your child probably sooner than you think. Unfortunately your kids will be exposed to some form of sexuality in advertisements, movies, TV shows, and the Internet.
You probably want to wait to have the puberty discussion until your child’s body begins to change, but some children (more likely girls) will start to change before their 10th birthday.
Even if your child hasn’t physically started to change, our culture will most likely have aroused her curiosity about sex, so it’s good to have a basic talk to straighten out any misinformation and prevent surprises. First, talk with your spouse about what you will say, and what sort of sexual values you want to communicate. You don’t want to send mixed messages, so you should agree with each other, and then communicate afterwards what was actually said during the conversation with your child. This first conversation may be uncomfortable, but don’t put it off. Talk with each other and then talk with your child younger than you think you should, and definitely BEFORE your child is tempted to experiment on her own.
When you talk to your child, be as calm and matter of fact as you can. If you show discomfort with the conversation, that may signal that you don’t like talking about it, and your child will be hesitant to talk about sex with you in the future when she has questions. Start off by asking what she already knows (or think she knows) about sex and making babies. Help her understand the actual process, what happens, the danger of sexually transmitted diseases, and the likely result of pregnancy. Remind her of the safe touch and not-safe touch conversations you have had, and what is permissible in public, in private, and with other people. Understand that your child’s cognitive immaturity leads to a lack of good judgment, meaning she likely doesn’t think things through to the end, so emphasize the negative consequences. Give her a quick preview of the changes to come when she begins to enter puberty, and also help her understand that although it is not likely, it is possible for a girl to get pregnant before her first menstruation.
You can get more details and advice on handling difficult conversations about sex, drugs, and other sensitive issues, including what to say at each age, by clicking here to see your options.
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