Talking to your child

How should I start?

This section gives you tips to get started with talking to your child about growing up, sex and relationships

Do

  • Read books, leaflets, look at a web-site or watch a DVD with your child
  • Talk while you're doing something else - washing up, driving in the car, fishing or going for a walk
  • Enjoy talking about it. Laugh with each other, not at each other - it can reduce embarrassment and stress.
  • Listen rather than judge. Try asking what your child thinks. Make sure you understand what your child's question really is...it may be much simpler than it first sounds
  • Answer questions and don't be afraid to say: ' I really don't know - let's work it out or look it up together'.
  • Have a phrase ready for awkward moments, such as: 'That's a good question, let's talk about it once we get home' (then make sure you do!)
  • Always respond, if you don't, she or he may think it is wrong to talk to you about sex and relationships and as a result you may find your child clams up when you raise the subject.
  • If it all feels too personal, try talking about people in books, films, and favourite television programmes such as soaps.

Don't

  • Say you will tell them when they are older if they ask a question about sex. Instead, find a way to answer them in a way that matches their level of understanding. If you don't know the answer look at ways you can find out together, for example on the internet.
  • Bombard your child with questions if they ask you a question. If you are concerned about a question or a comment they have made gently try and find out why they are asking it.  Do try and hold on to your anxieties until you have a better idea of the origins of the question. As children get older they may go through phases of wanting to be private. Let them know you are happy to talk to them whenever they are ready.
  • Talk too much. Children say it is awful to get a lecture on growing up. Try to make it a two-way conversation.
  • Be afraid to tell your children what you think, and why. It's also helpful to recognise that other people they know may have different opinions. Asking your child's opinion shows them that you are interested in what they think and might make them feel less anxious about talking to you.

 

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Resource list for parents and carers

Download this Sex Education Forum list of books, leaflets and web-based resources suitable for parents to use with their children.