The birds and the bees- age by age

The birds and the bees is not a discussion you will only have once during your child’s life. In fact, it is a talk you will need to have at numerous points in your child’s life. When your little one is only a few years old, you will need them to understand their bodies and learn the different terms used. Of course, when your child becomes a teenager, you need to make sure they are educated regarding safe sex. So, how do you approach the birds and the bees at each age? Let’s take a look…

Ages 0 to 3-years-old

At this age, it is not so much having a discussion with your baby. It is about letting them get to know their bodies. Babies will often become curious. Remember, they don’t know the differences between girls and boys at this stage. So, what can you do? Here are some suggestions.

  • Let babies and toddlers run around naked at home. They seem to love doing it! However, it helps to teach them what parts are private. They will come to realise what parts must be covered when in public or around other people.
  • Begin talking about genitals around the age of two-years-old. This means teaching your child the proper names.
  • Teach your child about the proper names of body parts early on, and do so without laughing.
  • Set a low-key yet serious and open tone about sexuality issues. It is normal for toddlers and babies to touch their genitals during bath time and diaper changes. Don’t call attention to this by getting angry or laughing. Have a casual approach.

Ages 4 to 5-years-old

This is often when the question comes: where did I come from? How did I get out of your tummy? You need to look for natural and teachable moments to explain this. For example, if you know someone is expecting a baby, you can use this as an opportunity to discuss it. You don’t need to go overboard at this stage, though. Give simple and truthful responses without talking about sexual intercourse. For example, you can say you have tiny eggs inside of you that grow into a baby. Stick to the facts but do not share more than you need to.

Ages 6 to 7-years-old

At this stage, you should continue to answer all of your child’s questions truthfully and simply without going into too much detail. This is an important part of your child’s life in terms of teaching your child about personal safety and protecting themselves from sexual abuse. Talk with your child about saying no, even if it is as simple as they don’t like being tickled. Tell them they have to set their own rules and say ‘no’ when they do not like something.

Ages 8 to 12-years-old

This is the period whereby children usually start to wonder about sex. Moreover, you need to prepare your child for puberty too. This is something you should do. Do not leave it to health or sex education teachers. If your child is too shy to talk, providing him or her with an age-appropriate book that explains puberty and sex. You also need to make sure you keep an open-door policy. Also, continue to follow your child’s lead and answer their queries.

Ages 13 and older

This is the big talk stage. Your child may be thinking about dating, and so you really need to explain everything, from STDs to pregnancy. It is a big talk, but it is important to have it. Make sure you warn your child to avoid the modern troubles of dating, including online dating and sexting. Moreover, be prepared to talk to your child about gay and lesbian connections. It is important that they feel like they can be honest with you about their sexuality if they are confused.

Hopefully, you now feel more prepared to have the birds and the bees discussion with your child. While it is not so much of a discussion when your child is a baby, it is important for them to get used to their bodies and understand them - something we quickly take for granted. You then need to make sure you have the important discussions at the right ages to ensure your child learns everything they need to. After all, it is better to hear it from you then to hear false information from someone else!

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