Health

How to talk about the birds and bees with your kids

It is the conversation most parents dread - telling their young ones how babies are made and explaining awkward and complex topics, such as sexuality and intimacy.

Before you proceed, take note of what the experts have to say.

ARE YOU READY 
TO TALK ABOUT SEX?

According to Ms Ho Shee Wai, a psychologist and director at The Counselling Place, the issue is not so much about whether your child is mature or old enough to know about sex, but more about whether you and your spouse are ready to have the discussion.

"As parents, you should ask yourselves if you're comfortable talking about sex with your child," said Ms Ho.

"You have to be willing to broach the subject.

"And when you do, you have to ensure that the information you're sharing is accurate and age-appropriate."

If your daughter asks about sex when you least expect it, however, you should do your best to answer her.

"Never dismiss her curiosity about the subject," said Mrs Hershey Regaya, programme manager at the education and outreach department of the Family Life Society.

"Questions should be answered as they arise so that her natural curiosity is satisfied as she matures.

"Make her feel that you're an approachable parent so she won't solely rely on friends or the media for answers about any sexual issues."

You should not make your child feel bad for asking questions about sex either, or she will think that talking about it is off-limits.

Instead, affirm her interest and express appreciation that she raised the topic with you.

"She should walk away with the impression that you and your spouse are the people to approach for questions about sex and sexuality," Mrs Regaya added.

SOME TIPS FOR 'THE TALK'

Anchor the talk with references to family or religious values, combined with scientific explanations.

This is important no matter your child's age, said Ms Ho.

Discussions about topics such as forming healthy relationships, self-control, love, respecting others should be grounded in the values your family subscribes to.

And be sure to use scientific explanations where needed - no nicknames or slang terms.

Using anatomical terms de-stigmatises those body parts and helps your child develop a body image that is positive and free of shame.

Use age-appropriate language.

If your child is a pre-schooler, it's okay to come up with creative, simple ways to explain different aspects of sex.

Remember to emphasise the concept of love between daddy and mummy when explaining this process to your child.

Ms Ho suggests saying something like "sex is one of the ways people show love for each other and feel close to each other".

If you don't know, say so.

Be honest and say, "I don't have the answer to that right now, but I'll find out and get back to you".

And make sure you do get back to your child, so she understands she can rely on you if she ever has other questions relating to sex or sexuality.

Mrs Regaya suggests assembling a kit or a list of reliable web sources, books and magazines as early as possible, so you will have the answers when she approaches you at any age.

This article is adapted from Simply Her.

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