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How to Have the Sex Talk with Your Kids

How to Have the Sex Talk with Your KidsThis guest article from YourTango was written by Stacy York.

I met Jay when he was four years old. He came into my office because he said, “She’s a bitch and I would like to fuck her” to a preschool girl.

He was four.

I truly believe that he had no idea what he was saying and what the actual words meant. However, he had been exposed to these words and had even witnessed many things that he never should have. Jay had been recently removed from his parents custody and sent to live with his grandfather.

Why am I telling you this? Your kids are going to school with other Jays now. He’s the little boy with behavioral problems. He’s the grade-school kiddo who french kisses girls on the bus. He’s the sexually promiscuous teenager.

It is not Jay’s fault that he was exposed to such vile things at a young age. It will take a lifetime to rewire and “fix” his brain connections around the concept sex and what it means. And unfortunately, Jay is not alone.

There are hundreds of kids walking through my office door … and most of them are aware of sex or at least know “what boys and girls do.” So, it is crucial that parents start getting comfy with the notion of talking about sex with their kids. A recent article in USA Today says “teens are even less comfortable talking about sex with their parents than parents are.”

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Kids are going to learn about sex whether parents talk to them about it or not. As a professional, I believe in having kids learn about sex from their parents instead of their friends and sex education courses. With that in mind, here are some simple tips for talking to your kids about sex:

1. Establish trust. You need a relationship with the children before discussing sex. So begin building one if it hasn’t already been established.

Kids do not want to talk to people who are just going to lecture them or tell them what not to do. Spend time listening to your kids’ life and what’s happening in it before you have “the talk.”

2. Gauge maturity. The talk you have with them depends on their emotional age. You definitely are not going to go into a detailed discussion about sexual intercourse with a kindergartner. However, you can have a chat about boundaries and private parts.

This is a necessary conversation for kids that are going out into the big world by themselves. As for teens, be prepared to talk about everything from blow jobs to anal sex because most of them are discussing these topics at school.

3. Open the door. Give them permission to come to you with any questions, comments, or thoughts. Open the door for communication.

If your kids know that they are not going to get in trouble if they come to talk with you about a tough topic, they will be more willing to come to you with their problems. Freak out after they leave the room.

4. Make the first move. Do not expect them to make the first move. Kids do not wake up thinking, “How can I connect to my parents today?” That’s your job.

Go to them and open the discussion with, “Hey, I want to have the talk with you about sex. Let’s chat tonight after dinner.”

When you start the chat, ask if they have questions. Answer those questions. Then, give them facts.

Before you finish the discussion, leave the door open, “I want you to know, you can come to me anytime with any question. I want you to have accurate information and to be safe.

5. Laugh. Expect humor to happen. Sex is a funny topic. I still don’t understand why we’re all so weird about it. Even as adults, we make sexual comments and innuendos.

Your kids are doing this at school too. There will be joking and laughing. That’s okay! Laughter actually releases stress and will help you get through this discussion comfortably.

6. Teach limits. Teach them about self-respect and respecting others. In a world where kids are connected to technology as infants, many mixed messages are thrown at their impressionable brains.

Discuss what is and isn’t acceptable in relationships. For example, “It’s okay for a guy who likes you to flirt with you. It’s not okay for a guy to call you a slut or comment about your breasts.” “The talk” is just as much about the relationship with ourselves as it is about having a sexual relationship with someone else.

You can handle this! You made it through and your kids need your support to make it through too.


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How to Have the Sex Talk with Your Kids

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APA Reference
Experts, Y. (2018). How to Have the Sex Talk with Your Kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 3 Nov 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.