Tell a FriendTell a Friend

Sexual Health

Tips For Parents… Talking With Your Children About Sexuality

Don’t wait for your child to ask questions about sexuality
Some children gain information (possibly incorrect) from playmates and assume that she/he has all the facts required. You need to decide what is important for her/him to know based on established family guidelines before problems occur.

Encourage them to ask questions
By reacting positively to your child’s issues, you are teaching them that her/his problems are significant and as an adult you will try your best to help him/her out.

Listen with an open mind
If you wait to hear the entire question before assuming you know what she/he will ask, there is a much greater chance of her/him getting the information she/he needs. Ask her/him what she/he wants to know and what she/he already knows.

Hear the message behind the question
Sometimes the real question is "Am I normal?". You can explain to him/her that each person experiences puberty a little differently but that many other youth have the same concerns.

Use "teachable moments"
While watching a movie or listening to the lyrics of a song, strike up a conversation about how characters behaved and how that relates to your family’s beliefs and values.

Help him/her practice informed decision making skills
Provide children with options when possible and encourage them to think about the consequences and benefits of each choice. They will learn to gain knowledge before making quick decisions.

Talk about the positive aspects of sexuality
If you constantly discuss the negative consequences of sex, youth will feel that you are not being honest. If sex only precipitates negative outcomes, why would so many people enjoy doing it? It is about providing a balanced perspective. Young people that are self-confident and feel positive about their bodies and sexuality are more likely to protect themselves from crisis situations because they are comfortable asking for help and information.

Acknowledge that you feel uncomfortable
Being honest about your fears may alleviate the stress for both of you. It also teaches your child that although this is not easy for you, you care enough about her/him to make sure she/he has the answers and support she/he needs.

Know that you don’t have to have all of the answers
No one has all the answers - not even the self declared experts. Answer the questions you can and call a doctor or sexual health professional for the things you don’t know.

Have a sense of humour
There are bound to be humorous moments out of excitement, nervousness or silly comments. As long as no one feels embarrassed or ignorant as a result of a joke, a little laughter goes a long way.

Adapted From:

  1. Canadian Health Network
    (CHN is brought to you by Health Canada and major health organizations across the country)
  2. Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada