sex education in schools, sex education for preschoolers, sex education for boys, sex education for girls, Sex education for kids , Sex education UK

Sex Education for Kids: When to Talk to Your Child About Sex

When is the right time to begin sex education for kids to begin? 

We all know how babies are made, right? When a woman is ready to become a mother, a Stork flies down and delivers a new baby to the family.

Peddling this myth to my daughter has never occurred to me, and with the number of pregnant women we see in everyday life, I have no idea how you’d hide the reality of where babies come from – or why you’d want to do so in the first place. Of course, this can lead to the trickier follow up question of ‘How did the baby get in there?”

My parents never really spoke to me about sex. The one time my mother tried, I was 14 and she was driving me home from school, and started awkwardly talking about how I shouldn’t worry if I found a white mess in my pants (I think she was hinting at wet dreams). I shut that conversation down as soon as I realised.

Sex education in school had started when I was 11, but even by then, playground innuendo had already established itself, and sex was something secretive and naughty to giggle at.

Given these childhood experiences, as a parent I feel I sex education for kids should begin early. But in the UK, the Conservative government has refused to make Sex & Relationship Education (SRE) statutory in schools. Under the national curriculum, SRE is compulsory from age 11 – prior to that it is up to individual heads whether to teach sex education in schools or not.

In this digital age, 11 is far too late to leave sex education for kids. So if we want to make sure our kids are learning about sex earlier – before being exposed to playground gossip or the first kid who realises how easy it is to access porn – it’s probably up to us parents.

My first sex talk with my daughter happened far earlier than anticipated. When she was 3-years-old, she asked about a pregnant friend of ours, when she asked the question – ‘But how did the baby get in her belly?’. I explained that a seed from the daddy joins and egg from the mummy, which grows into a baby. “But how does the seed get in there?”

Momentarily pondering the directness of this question, and my mantra of never knowingly lying to my daughter, I rather aptly though ‘Fuck it’, and I told her. So we had our very first sex talk, involving men and women, and how they use their genitalia to reproduce. It was all pretty matter of fact, and having her curiosity satisfied, the conversation ended.

There was of course lots missing from our first sex education talk. Reproduction and sex are two different things. Reproduction regularly happens artificially, and many children are conceived this way. Being a parent isn’t necessarily about your biological relationship to the child.

Other key aspects I feel need to be addressed include same sex relationships, the importance of safe sex, issues around consent, and simply the pleasure of sexuality.

We haven’t specifically gone into those aspects yet, but the ideas behind them have. Kids understand pretty well the pleasure of doing something because you enjoy it. General hygiene is often discussed and the need to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

Recently, my daughter professed she wanted to marry her best girl friend when she grows up. I said that’s fine as long as her friend wants to as well – covering same sex relationships and consent in one go.

To answer the question posed in the title of this post, I guess the answer is when they are ready. And perhaps that is when your child asks. I’m happy for this topic to remain child led for now. If she asks questions, we’ll answer them. But there are looming deadlines. There is clearly a need for children to know before they hit puberty, and that isn’t as far away as we might think.

But even sooner than that, all it takes is another child with internet access to show yours explicit material. It’s in no one’s best interests for that to be your child’s first sexual experience. I feel the sooner we educate our kids about sex the better, before some kid with a smartphone gets there first.

For more information, please visit The Sex Education Forum


When did you talk to your child about sex? Was it too soon or do you wish you waited? Or what age do you think you will talk to them about sex – if at all? When should sex education for kids begin? Please comment below.

11 thoughts on “Sex Education for Kids: When to Talk to Your Child About Sex”

  1. I like your style and your confidence! I have to say that kind of chat is not what I look forward to the most, but I agree: dealing with it as and when they want to talk about it is probably the best approach. #ftmob

  2. My four year old asks a lot of questions, but so far is content to think that daddy used magic to put her in mommy’s belly until it was time for her to be “pooped out”. I agree with you, we need to have these real conversations a lot earlier than happened when we were kids.

  3. I’d like to think that I’d have the same approach as you. My parents were always very open with me (and still are) – I think sex was first discussed at maybe 7 or 8 and I remember being one of the first to know about it at school. I don’t see any point in lying about things, it’s just having the right conversation which is age appropriate at that point.

  4. I absolutely agree & love that you’re tackling consent as well.
    I first started talking to my eldest girl about sex when she was 3 & I was pregnant with my second. Seeing no reason to hide the truth from her, I used simple, age appropriate language & she was content with the answer.
    We use cues to speak frankly with both my daughters about sex & relationship issues all the time, relationships are part of life, whether romantic, sexual, platonic, professional.
    The girls will often ask questions when issues arise on tv or in books.
    There are 2 same sex couples as parents at their school & they were able to understand & accept this far easier than others.
    My eldest started showing signs of puberty at 8 & now aged 11 already has curves. She knows all about hygiene, consent & we’re fostering positive body image – all this whilst just one solitary lesson has occurred at school, mostly around puberty, adolescence & hygiene.
    Every one of her friends has a smartphone with Internet access & whilst hers has adult filters, I cannot trust that other parents have activated their child’s, nor that a child with a gift for IT could get round them.
    We’ve even discussed pornography in an age appropriate way based upon freedom to enjoy your body, feel good & foster healthy adult relationships. It really is taught far too late & with too light a touch. Knowledge is power.

  5. My son is obsessed with the human body at the moment and has asked a lot of questions about it, but somehow this topic hasn’t come up yet… I like your approach though, we have always tried to be honest when answering his many, many questions, so hopefully this will be the right way to deal with those questions too.
    x Alice

  6. Hadn’t really considered it yet, but I don’t see the point in the silly myths, so would probably go with answering questions if raised, but in a way that is appropriate and comprehensible for their age. #ftmob

  7. I like your approach to sex education with your daughter – I agree that it is far better for them to learn these things from us than discover things online that we would prefer them not to see, before they are able to understand more. I’ve yet to be asked any questions from my eldest although I think I would also rather answer directly and honestly, but keep it very basic for now. I think 11 is really too late for children to start learning about sex education – these days it is all too easy for them to find out things online and even when I was a child, by the time we had our first sex education lesson at around that age, it had already been discussed on the playground with lots of giggles anyway. Very thought-provoking post – thank you for linking it to #ftmob

  8. This is a good thought provoking piece.

    We’ve been starting early with our kids even to the point that it’s become a gag but it works. When our son starts crossing boundaries we don’t go aw…how sweet, we say ‘consent!’ and he backs off.

    When we play tickles or raspberries and it gets too much and the kids say stop, we stop straight away. We haven’t broached the topic fully (a bit young) but we hope that by getting them to recognise and respect boundaries they’ll have the right start when they do start relationships and can feel confident about their boundaries.


  9. Totally agree with the no-lying rule. I do the same. It isn’t always easy, but I feel the kids trust what I say. Which is worth a lot.
    At 3! Well done you.
    I feel we teach our kids about the circle of life – sex, birth, death – from the start. It should be everywhere in our society, not hidden.
    And obviously it should all be spoke from an enormous rock at dawn break.

  10. I am also pro honesty and pro early.

    To add to the reasons for early — when she was about three or four my daughter realised that ‘girls get pregnant but not boys’ and when she asked me how babies get in there it was because the thought of suddenly becoming pregnant was really worrying to her.

    The daughter of a good friend of mine was exactly the same way at about the same age. The anxiety of little girls, understanding one part of the story: “girls get pregnant” while not understand *how* the baby got there, is a form of anxiety it’s perhaps easy to dismiss as adults, but a very real concern for the girls.

    If only I could say to my daughter in total honesty (though I have actually said this to assuage her worries): “Women get to choose whether they are pregnant or not.”

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