Updated: Aug 22
How can you ensure as a parent a good sexual education? The sexual development of children starts much earlier than puberty. And so is sex education. But how do we do that? Children go through different phases of sexuality in their development through discovering and understanding. Sex education is not something you do in one moment. It is best to let sexuality be part of the education.
In this article you will find some sexual development information and tips on shaping your sexual education.
Sexual development through ages
Babies (0-2 jaar)
The development of babies is mostly physical. therefore physical contact make your baby feel safe. This is good for bonding. So cuddling, hugging and showing affection are the best way you can show a young child. They are discovering more and more of their own body and this includes the genitals. A baby learns by feeling and experiencing. Usually they will touch their genitals by accident. They can already notice that this gives a nice feeling. Allow this. This teaches your child that he is in charge of his own body. So don't immediately take the hand away, but let your baby discover.
Toddler (2-4 years)
Around the age of 2, children distinguish boys from girls. They are curious about their own and others' genitals. They want to discover by looking and touching. Allow it. This is part of normal development, but teach your child where he can do this.
Toddler (4-6 years)
Preschoolers are very interested in the bodies of others. They are curious about the differences between boys and girls and want to discover each other's bodies. They will often do this in play, for example by playing doctor or mother and father. Let this happen, but agree on rules. Teach them not to do anything he doesn't want to. And learn that he doesn't do anything that someone else doesn't want to.
Preschoolers are increasingly realizing that sexuality and being naked don't belong in public. This allows them to secretly play the games. Make sure that the age differences between the children in these games are not too great, so that there is equality.
Primary school child (6-12 years)
From about age 6, children develop feelings of shame. They don't want to be naked in public anymore. Respect this and let your child shower or dress alone if they wants to.
Children will start asking fewer questions about sexuality around this age. They feel it is a loaded subject. Don't be secretive and talk about it often. Children learn that, even when they are older, they can come to you with questions. Keep an eye on what your child receives from television or the internet, because your child may misunderstand something. Talk about it openly and honestly. Explain that sex is about love and that sex is something you both want and enjoy.
you can use video's or book for guidance like this one:
Elementary school kids will fantasize about being in love and sex. You also often see at this age that boys and girls play separately. They become shy or act tough. Or they are just in love, and this can feel very real to them. For example, they always want to play together or hold hands.
Girls often hit puberty earlier than boys. In girls, this starts around the age of 10, while boys are usually 12 years old. Then there are physical changes, such as pubic hair, armpit hair, breast formation in girls, a first menstruation and the first ejaculation in boys.
Adolescents (12-18 years)
During puberty, a child has to deal with many hormonal changes. In addition to all the physical changes, the identity is also developing rapidly. Adolescents are often insecure about themselves and their bodies. They are becoming more and more interested in sexuality.
Parents often want to talk about sex with adolescents, but most adolescents are not waiting for this. Don't sit down for a serious conversation about sex education, but try to find natural entrances. For example, by talking about sexuality in response to a TV program or something that happened at school. It's easier to talk about a difficult subject when you don't have to look at each other. For example, talk while taking a walk.
Explain to your child about menstruation, the first ejaculation, the growth of beard hair and pubic hair. It is important that adolescents know that they should only kiss and make love if they want to and enjoy it. They need to know that they can always say "no" when they don't feel like it. It is also important that they know that you should have safe sex with a condom and possibly the pill, because otherwise they can get pregnant.
It is also important to stay involved with your child. Make sure your child can come to you with questions about relationships, love and sexuality. This is even more important than sex education. Ask what they're up to, show interest, and get to know their friends. This way you know better what is going on and you can respond more easily. Listen to your child, take his feelings seriously and don't come up with advice too quickly.
Sex education is about offering your child a safe framework in which to develop sexually. This in the broadest sense of the word, so discovering one's own body, developing feelings and seeing that sexuality also has to do with friendship, trust, safety, honesty and setting boundaries.
So the main principles for a healthy sexuality are:
Boss of your own body
You hope that your child is comfortable in his own skin and that he is in charge of his own body. He respects the other and will be able to form healthy relationships. You see, sexuality is a natural part of life.
Providing sex education
When you inform and teach them all about the first menstruation or ejaculation, sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and contraceptives.
Start on a young age because of the dangers of the exposed information. As we teach our children to cycle and swim at an early age, so with sex education. We start on a playful way, with training wheels and swimming rings, so sex education we explain, read and see information together. Give lots of hugging, offering safety and cuddling and talk about sexuality which will make them more resilient as an adolescent.