How to Talk to Your Children About Their Bodies
Keep it simple
When it comes to sex education, keep things simple, straightforward, and accurate. First lessons can include general topics, such as:
- Body parts, including sex organs or “private parts”
- Anatomical differences between girls and boys
- Appropriate and inappropriate touching
These conversations don’t have to include complex diagrams and language. Instead, look for simple images that realistically portray the human body, including sex organs. As you talk about body parts, discuss how they function and change with age, such as the growth of pubic hair on the genitals during puberty.
Avoid gender stereotypes
As you talk about your child’s body, try to avoid gender stereotypes by focusing on anatomical differences. These conversations should also help your child understand that it isn’t always easy to identify girls and boys by appearance alone. For example, both boys and girls can have short haircuts.
Think of these discussions as building the foundation for healthy body images and respect for others. The sooner your child understands their body, the easier it will be for them to communicate their needs and grow into healthy adults.
Teach them about privacy
Most kids have few boundaries when it comes to their bodies, and many feel completely comfortable running around naked. It’s also common for young children to become more curious about why they look different from their friends and playmates, which can lead them to explore these differences by touching, staring, or asking questions.
Helping your child understand the difference between public and private in terms of their body can help them learn healthy everyday habits. For example, you can explain that it’s usually OK to be naked at the doctor’s office or at home, but that they should wear clothes at school. Similarly, you should teach them to be respectful of someone else’s body and privacy, including touching, hugging, and kissing.
Conversations involving privacy are also great opportunities to explain “good touch,” “bad touch,” and who should or shouldn’t touch “private parts.” Try to position these conversations in a calm and relaxed way, so your child can understand that their body belongs to them, and they can ask you questions or talk about it.
It can take time for children to understand what’s going on with their bodies, especially if they have behavioral or developmental disorders, such as autism. However, starting early and providing clear, accurate, and repetitive information can help teach your child these valuable lessons.
Remember, these conversations don’t have to be lectures or scheduled discussions. Even bringing up these topics during everyday moments can help introduce the concepts in a relaxed and natural way. Keep these learning opportunities small and manageable, so they can remain positive and comfortable for both you and your child.
For more tips on talking to your child about their body, book an appointment online or over the phone with Scottsdale Pediatric Behavioral Services today.