Posted by: Belinda | 2008/06/24

At what age

Hi Doc

At what age is it appropriate to talk to children about the ' brids and bees'? Mine are 5 and 7 and they have never asked any questions apart from why we are anatomically different. They are both boys. I am sending them on a holiday camp (mornings only) next week where they will mix with older children and I feel I need to tell them about sex - but I dont want to give them more info than they can handle. Can you give me any guidelines on what would be appropriate. At his stage they are still totally naive (they dont watch much tv - only really kiddies stuff).


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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Thanks for your very sensible question --- it'll be interesting to see what other readers think ( and the Parenting Forum may also have some ideas ). My view is that it is rarely if ever too early, IF one is responding to questions the child has or to situations in which questions are likely. It is useful from the start to create a relationship within which they feel comfortable asking you about anything that concerns them ( questions about death can freak parents out even more ) With both, you can often use opportunities that arise when a pet deis, or mates, or they notice boy cats and girls cats are different --- its always better to answer their questions, in their language and understanding
I always remember the instructive story of the little boy who asked him mom "Mommy, where did I come from ?" She had been dreading this question for years, but sat him down with large anatomical charts and worked from birds and bees through all the species right through to childbirth. After a pause, the child said : "That's very interesting, Mom, but what I mwant was, did I come from Cape Town or Bloemfontein ? " The point being that often we answer what they're not asking or curious about, and may neglect what they ARe wanting to know about
Similarly, start more generally, and get more specific in response to what they want to know.
Don't see it as a one-off ordeal, but as an ongoing process, only starting with this first conversation. Sometimes its useful to ask them gently what they know, how they think things work. And then correct misconceptions.

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Our users say:
Posted by: visitor | 2008/06/24

i would be very careful of a holiday camp if there are older children involved. I am very careful about letting my kids mix with older children and firmly believe kids should only mix with children their own age. there are too many dangers in this day and age

Reply to visitor
Posted by: Kay in Gtown | 2008/06/24

There are a lot of brilliant books that have been written about this subject for children of varying ages. I found one I particularly liked, (because it was also gay-friendly) bought it and casually left it lying around in the house, without mentioning it. Of course they found it and read it, (they wouldn't have read it if I'd given it to them and told them to!)
They also "got" the message that since I'd bought it, they could ask about it, so quite a few questions followed this.
You could probably even borrow books like this from a library - find one that is suitable for their age and read it to them (I assume they're not reading much themselves yet). The questions will come...

And as Cybershrink says, it's a very ongoing process - my girls began asking long before I bought the above book and are still asking lots of questions at 15 and 18.

Best of luck!

Reply to Kay in Gtown

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