Sex education: tips for parents who don’t know where to start with the ‘birds and bees talk’

Well, well… Personally I find the topic of sex education quite tough to discuss with my child. Kids are curious and the crucial questions come up at some point. Interestingly, it would appear parents agree with Ofcom’s findings as recent research from Mum Show Live! (exhibition for parents with kids at school age) shows 95 per cent of British parents say it will be mum who teaches their kids about the birds and the bees.

curious children Italy

Justin Hancock from Bish training, which specialises in sex education, is hosting a talk on exactly this subject – and how sex education should not fall to teachers alone but how parents need to step up to the plate and get involved.

‘It’s no surprise to sex educators that there is still inadequate sex and relationships education in many schools, both secondary and primary. However it’s important to realise that in many cases this is not the fault of teachers or schools. Schools which do teach this subject well have specialist PSHE teachers who have been trained in SRE. They are familiar with the very best resources and have the skills to teach this subject appropriately and sensitively. Teachers should not simply be thrown in at the deep end and be asked to teach without this level of training or support.

However it seems that the government aren’t going to take a proactive lead on this any time soon. This means that it’s more important than ever that parents get involved in teaching their kids about sex and relationships. Giving their kids the facts about puberty, growing up and anatomy enable them to understand their bodies and this in turn helps them to stay safe. It might seem daunting at first, particularly as many of us have not had great sex education ourselves, but it’s ok not to know all the answers. Learn as you go and admit that you’re learning too. Little and often is the best way, little conversations over dinner, or on the school run, or whilst washing the pots can be a lot easier than having one big ‘birds and bees talk’.

TIPS:

1. Although parents in this survey say they would like their kids to be around 10 when they have the birds and the bees chat, sex and relationships education often begins before that. Talking about body differences, different kinds of relationships (friendships, family), learning how to say no and who to ask if you need help is all ‘sex’ education and can happen from a very early age.

2. Think of talking to children about sex as less of ‘a talk’ but more of a series of conversations over the course of a child’s life. Little and often is the best way to deal with it. This will help boost your confidence when you’re talking about it – making it less of a big deal for the both of you.

Mums Show Live kids
3. Ever chatted about a storyline in a TV programme? Or talked about a child’s friendship at school? Or had a conversation about what is right and wrong? That can be sex education. Pin your ears back and listen for opportunities to have a conversation rather than a lecture.

4. When giving information try to use terms that are accurate but also easy for your child to understand. It’s better, for instance, to use accurate terms for body parts rather than euphemisms that only you and your family understand. Some things will just go over their heads so ask them if they understand what you have taught them.

5. Whatever age your child is when they ask a sex-related question, make sure you answer it. This will ensure they don’t think they’ve asked the wrong question, or it’s something to be embarrassed by. It’s very common for young children to be aware of their body parts – so if they ask what it is and what it’s for – try and answer without feeling embarrassed.

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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