Are you worried that your child is too young to learn where babies come from? Most Parents have serious reservations about discussing the birds and the bees with young children. Here are six things you should consider in your calculus:
1) Children will wonder about the birds and the bees very early..
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should be introduced to body parts as young as 18 months old. By 4-5 years old, Parents should already be formulating a plan to discuss where babies come from. At 4-5, children may even express curiosity about sexual organs. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these are not adult sexual curiosities but rather, signs of normal interest. They point out that between 5-7 years of age, children may make up their own answers about where babies come from and may even turn to their friends for answers.
American Academy of Pediatrics.
2) If Parents don’t establish themselves as resources, children will ask elsewhere..
When children ask their Parents where babies come from and they are given the run around and/or told to ask another Parent, they learn not to go to their Parents for answers to those questions. Once a child establishes that his or her Parents will not provide this information to him/her, the child will look to other sources. These sources may include, siblings, peers, and/or classmates. The child may even attempt to consult books, the internet and other media. The fact is, once a child is curious, that curiousity will grow until it finds answers.
Children’s Hospital Bostonhttp://www.childrenshospital.org/dream/winter09/sex.html
3) A Parent should take control of the Birds and Bees question before someone else does…
Waiting until your child asks where babies come from may be a mistake! By the time a child is asking, the child has probably already been exposed to many potential answers and is already formulating his or her perceptions regarding the matter. Between television, school, and the playground, there are plenty of opportunities for a child to be exposed to these concepts. Just because the child is not talking to you about them, does not mean he or she is not wondering. It is arguably better to be a tour guide and help them through this time rather than waiting around for a child to ask uncomfortable questions.
Source: Planned Parenthood of Indiana – Parent Education Packet http://www.ppin.org/education/education_documents/parent_packet.pdf
4) The initial answer to where babies come from does not have to be biological.
The “Santa Claus” method of discussing things with small children often postpones bigger conversations and can be very effective. Providing children with a non-biological answer is sometimes a better way to deal with discussions of where babies come from. While this writer may be biased as I have written a book that gives a non-biological story about the birds and the bees, it is important for parents to at least consider postponing potentially overwhelming biological discussions until a child is older. Birds, Bees, Babies tells children that babies are made by the birds and the bees and that they use frogs, snails and puppy dog tails to make boys and sugar and some spice and some things that are nice to make boys. It is a picture book and rhymes. There are other such books and approaches and folk tales that may be fun for a family to use to start these discussions. The fact that a discussion occurs is important and is often a healthy start, irrespective of the content of the discussion. Making a child comfortable having these discussions with a parent is the goal.
Birds, Bees, Babies by J.L. Sweat
5) If your child has certain disabilities, it may be even more important to address certain issues and set boundaries for the child’s protection.
Discussing “private parts” and why they would be off limits to others is something all parents want to consider. There are many different ways to handle these conversations. If your child is disabled, there might be even more reason to make sure that the child understands that adults and other children should not be touching certain parts of their bodies and that they should communicate with parents if such is occurring. One of the most important goals is to provide kids with the ability to communicate and act responsibly. The ability to communicate certain discomfort may be enhanced if parents work to ensure that children have a forum for communication and feel comfortable doing so.
See Also: Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability by Kaufman, Silverberg, and Odette
6) If you decide to engage in biological discussions of the birds and the bees or sex with young children, make sure you are fully prepared to explain things.
Once you have the chat about sex with your child, you have to make sure that your child sees you as an authority. If you make the conversation uncomfortable, it will create a disincentive to talking to you about the birds and the bees. Get materials, charts and pictures if necessary. Read about what is appropriate for your child’s age group. Rather than forced discussions, plan activities, movies or even television programs that will provide more natural segways into a discussion. Further, you may create new external dynamics as your child may decide to share this newly acquired information with other parents. If possible, discuss the fact that you will be having these conversations with the Parents of playmates so that they are not taken by surprise when this new serious information set hits the playground and social group.
U.S. Sex Information and Education Council
See Also SexEdLibrary
J.L. Sweat is the author of Birds, Bees, Babies, a non-biological children’s book about the birds and the bees that provides a “Santa Claus” approach to telling children where babies come from.