At what age can you have ‘The Talk’ with your child? How much information should you give your little one about where babies come from?
Children are naturally curious beings. So when they start asking you questions about their bodies and where babies come from, you might want to consider having ‘The Talk’ with them. From a very young age, they may start asking you different types of questions. It could be as simple as where baby’s come from. Or it could be more about understanding what happens to their body when they grow up. By answering any questions they ask, you can help them to understand their bodies and their feelings from an early age.
If you’re worried that talking about S-E-X could mean your child starts engaging it earlier than you would like, you could be wrong. Evidence shows that children whose parents talk about sex openly start having sex at a later stage. They are also more likely to use contraception. So maybe it’s a good idea to have the talk when they ask their curious questions.
Let’s have the talk
Teach them that it is okay to talk about sex and relationships. Let them know you’re happy to talk about it. By making sex a normal subject, your child will learn they can talk to you about it whenever they need to.
No matter how open you are about sex, there will be times when you need a quick answer to deal with awkward questions. For example, in the supermarket queue or on a bus. Say something like, “That’s a good question. I’d like to talk about that when we get home”. Just remember to talk about it when you get home.
What to talk about age by age
Ages 2 to 3: The right words for private body parts, such as “penis” and “vagina”
Ages 3 to 4: Where a baby comes from. But they won’t understand all the details of reproduction—so keep it simple, tell them that children grow in mummy’s uterus.
Ages 4 to 5: How a baby is born. Stick with the literal response: “When you were ready to be born, the uterus pushed you out through Mommy’s vagina.”
Ages 5 to 6: A general idea of how babies are made e.g “mum and dad made you”. Or if they want more details: “A tiny cell inside dad called a sperm joined together with a cell inside mum called an egg.”
Ages 6 to 7: Give them a basic understanding of intercourse. You can say, “Male and female bodies are made to fit together like puzzle pieces. When the penis and the vagina fit together, the sperm, swim through the penis and up to the egg.” Explain what you think about sex and relationships. For instance, tell them sex is a way people show they love each other.
Ages 8 to 9: That sex is important. A child this age can handle a basic explanation on just about any topic. You may even consider talking about more difficult topics including consent and rape.
Ages 9 to 11: What happens to their body during puberty, it’s important they know about the changes before they happen. Also be ready to discuss sex-related topics your child sees in the news.
Age 12: By now, kids are formulating their own values, so check in every so often to provide a better context for the information your child’s getting. But avoid going overboard.