Talking to your kids about sex

July 23, 2008 5:10:46 PM PDT
How do you talk to your child about their changing bodies at any age? Nurse practitioner Barbara Dehn offers some advice.

Help your teen:

  • Feel comfortable with their bodies
  • Make their own decisions
  • Respect themselves
  • Respect others

    When to talk to your teens:

  • Early & Often
  • While doing other activities, like cooking or washing dishes
  • In the car
  • Avoid direct eye contact (too intimidating)

    How to talk them:

  • Link to their changing bodies
  • Discuss what you see in the news
  • Ask, Don't Tell
  • Lots of open ended questions

    Guiding your teen:

  • Age inappropriate behaviors
  • Being older means being able to handle more responsibility
  • Staying safe
  • Respecting other people's feelings

    Read Barbara's blog: NurseBarb.com

    Beyond the Birds and Bees
    By Barbara Dehn NP

    The goal when talking to your children about sex, no matter what their age, is to help them navigate their way and make safe and healthy choices with themselves and with others.

    We want to help our children:

  • Feel comfortable with their bodies
  • Make their own decisions
  • Respect themselves
  • Respect others

    Many parents aren't sure when to talk to their children about sex and may wait until some magical perfect moment. This approach may backfire, as kids are often curious about how their bodies are changing and how they feel about themselves and others as early as elementary school.

    I don't recommend that you wait. Talk to your kids early and often especially while doing other activities like hiking, cooking together or in the car. When they don't have to make eye contact with you, they'll feel more like opening up.

    It's really about listening and not talking.

    If you want to lecture your kids and teens about their bodies and sex, that's a sure fire way to get them to clam up. It's much more effective to listen and ask a few open ended questions.

  • Link to their changing bodies
  • Discuss what you see in the news, on TV and in movies
  • Ask, Don't Tell
  • Use lots of open ended questions, for example: what surprised you most about...

    You can't be with them all the time
    Having conversations with your teens about sex is all about guiding them to make their own decisions. After all, you can't be with them every minute of every day to make sure that they're making good choices.

    Our job as parents is to use our experience and wisdom to help guide our children away from age inappropriate behaviors, while remembering that as they get older, they can handle more responsibility while staying safe. I think that it's crucial to respect themselves and to respect others. For more information, please see NurseBarb.com.

    There are many good books for parents that will help you understand your teen. One of my favorites, You're Grounded was written by a teen. You can also access more advice from her blog: www.OnTeensToday.com


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