But they must learn how to handle their changing bodies and urges in a society that shows them “yes” but tells them “not now.” To this end, the importance of sex education both at school and at home cannot be overemphasized. This article explains the importance of sex education. We've also included tips on how to introduce sex to your kids. As for when to have the talk, scientists say before puberty is the best time.
Sex education: Helping your kids through their adolescence
Our children live in a highly sexualized society where they are exposed to sexual language, images, and behaviours before they are developmentally prepared to handle them. Kids didn’t “ask” for hormones at age 12.
Contrary to what you may think, sex education doesn't increase the likelihood of your child going off to have sex. However, a lot of teenagers are already active. But sex education will keep your kids grounded, and help your family's moral values take root.
What Is Sex Education?
Sex education is a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, and other aspects of human sexual behaviour. It is designed to help the youth gain the information, skills, and motivation to make healthy decisions about sex throughout their lives.
Why Is Sex Education Important?
It helps to prevent HIV and AIDS
Not just these, other sexually transmitted diseases too. Sex education is the first line of defense when it comes to fighting HIV and AIDS. Sex education for teenagers is very important as they are the most likely to be victims of these diseases!
It teaches socially accepted sexual behaviour
Men and women are different, and they should act differently in certain situations. For instance, both sexes should find the appropriate ways to interact with each other and also understand when to put up boundaries.
It teaches about the body structure
Imagine a situation where “a female student runs to the principal's office screaming that she is bleeding out”. What do you think when you read this? The student just got her period and she has no clue what's happening! It is important for students to be aware of the basics of their body structure. It's especially needed for teenagers who are entering puberty!
How To Have The Sex Talk With Your Kids
Start with the Basics
Explain the reasons for each change that happens during puberty. Remind them that puberty can last until they are in their early 20’s. Their bodies are continually growing during this time. Help them understand that “sex ed” is about more than just sexual intercourse. It is about learning to know how ones’ body works.
Use the correct terminology
Calling the genital area by a different name reinforces the idea that it is something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Use the real names for body organs and body parts when talking about them.
Explain things in detail
Showing pictures can help teenagers learn how things work, especially pictures that illustrate how they look on the inside. Describe what each body part is for.
Create a safe environment
Prepare yourself to talk about uncomfortable topics as openly as possible. It’s important for us to model appropriate dialogue around this area. If teaching in a group setting, be sure to set a clear boundary: any laughing or inappropriate jokes are not tolerated. If teaching one-on-one, be careful to watch your own body language and tone of voice.
Teach them to be experts about themselves
Most of the information that is available about puberty, sex and pregnancy is general. There are always people who experience things a little bit differently than the “norm”. Encourage your kids to become familiar with how their body works; to practice “listening” to their body, for example, keeping track of their period and doing self breast exams. This will help them in the future to be aware of potentially dangerous changes.
Let them ask any question they want
Children often have questions that they want real answers to. When you teach, make sure that you tell the kids that they are free to ask whatever question they need to, as long as it is asked in an appropriate way. Girls hear a lot of myths about their bodies and about intercourse. It is empowering for them to know what is true and what is not.
You cannot help to dispel myths if you do not have the correct information yourself.
Talk about it over and over again
Most people need to hear information over and over before they incorporate it into their lives. Discussing the topic frequently will help to normalize it. It will also bring up new questions to address.
Also read: Oral sex can cause oral cancer?
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com
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