Talking to Your Kids about Sex

Be an Askable Parent!

Top Tips

  • Stick to your word. If you say you will not get mad for being asked, don't get mad.  

  • Be non-judgmental with your kids.

  • Use age-appropriate language with your kids. You can start by using correct anatomy terms. 

  • Be honest. It is okay if you don't know an answer.

  • Be an active listener.

  • Talk to your kids about your family values regarding sex and dating.

  • Use "teachable moments" from TV, radio, or your every-day life. 

  • Model healthy relationships and make sure you know how to talk to your kids about healthy relationships.

Birth to 3 years old

  • Use anatomically correct names for body parts.

  • Tell your child it is okay to say no when they do not want to hug or kiss someone.

  • Explain that some things are not okay to do in public.

  • Explain the differences between boys and girls.

  • Teach them to say no if someone touches them in a way they do not like and to tell an adult.

  • If they ask you, explain body processes like pregnancy in simple terms.

4 to 5 years old

  • Keep using anatomically correct names for body parts with your kids.

  • Continue to tell them it is okay to say no to adults who want contact with them if they feel uncomfortable.

  • Explain how people's bodies work and explain pregnancy in simple terms.

  • Encourage them to come to you with questions.

6 to 8 years old

  • Kids may ask fewer questions and try to conform to gender roles.

  • Even if they do not ask questions, they probably still want to know.

  • Provide information about puberty.

  • Talk about hair growth, breast growth, voice changes, etc.

  • Start talking about some of your family values surrounding families, sex, marriage, abortion, etc.

  • Let your kids know what you expect from them.

9 to 12 years old

  • Explain what is normal.

  • Point out that some embarrassing things actually happen to a lot of people.

  • Remember to respect their privacy, but encourage them to ask questions.

  • Point out that just because they are becoming sexually mature does not mean they are ready for sex.

  • Be prepared to talk about the differences between emotions and sexual feelings.

  • You may also face questions about contraception and STIs; so, now is a great time to read up on those subjects on our website.

13 to 17 years old

  • They should gain an understanding of the consequences of sexual behavior and understand how pregnancy and STIs occur and what the risks are. If not from school, then from you.

  • Talk to your kids about what your values and expectations are regarding sex, relationships, pregnancy, abortion, contraception, STIs, and consent.

  • Explain what consent means and model good relationships with your child.

  • Talk about boundaries.

  • Provide good information to your teen about contraception and STIs so they can make good decisions.

  • Talk about what their goals are in life and discuss how pregnancy or an STI would impact those goals.

  • Refresh your memory about contraception and STIs. Read about them on our website.

Over 18 years old

  • It is important to talk to them like adults and accept them for who they are.

  • Recognize that they have the right to make their own decisions.

  • Keep the lines of communication open and talk about what your values are.

  • Avoid telling them what they can and cannot do.

  • Offer choices for behavior and acknowledge their responsibility to make healthy decisions.

  • Facilitate their access to information and services when they need them.

  • Remember that even though they are adults now, they may still need guidance from you from time to time.

LGBTQ+ Youth

  • Many parents think, "Aren't you a little young for this?" The truth is they are not too young.

  • Many LGBT people report knowing about their sexual orientation or gender identity early, sometimes as early as 10.

  • Remind them that you love them and to support their identity, even if you do not understand or it makes you uncomfortable.

  • Remember, they are just being who they are.

  • You should know that your teen can be a happy, well-adjusted person no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.

  • Your support and love will be critical for them at this time.

  • Find local resources for your teen and take them to events that will support their identity.

  • For more a list of local resources, you can check out our LGBT page. 

Thank you for your question! You should expect an answer within the next 24 hours.