Niyati Shah, our expert on sexuality education and counseling, shares some very useful tips and advice on the important of sex education in early childhood and how should parents address their child’s queries related to sexuality.
Q. Which is the appropriate age for sex education?
A. Sexuality education starts when the child is born. But understanding your question, I would say when you start teaching hygiene to your child is when you start sex educating her.
Q. Please tell us what is the right age to tell kids about difference in body parts for girl and boy. My son is 7 years old and he does not know. Is it okay?
A. Kids realize the difference very early in age. If they have a sibling at home or when they start going to school. Somewhere or the other they know there is a difference. But by the age of three, when lots of questions start coming, you can introduce the difference.
At 7, he will have many other questions. If you don’t start early, he might not ask you further questions thinking that you either don’t know or won’t answer.
Q. He is the only child and I don't think he is aware.
A. Look for opportunities and jump in with your lessons. Like, when you are giving him a shower, or when there is another baby around who is getting cleaned up, look for an opportunity. Do not ask him to sit down for a 'chat', he might not respond well. You just might be surprised. He might know but won't discuss it with you. Best is to find out and take it from there.
Q. I may sound weird but my worry is that the moment I tell him, he may decide to peek in girls’ bathroom out of curiosity.
A. Educate him that if he is curious you will help him. Tell him what's appropriate and what's not. Show him sketches. Do not feel embarrassed, curiosity is a human right Aren't we all curious??
Q. Sex education is a continuous process - small babies, young children, teens and so. The need for sex education will always prevail and the requirements of knowledge will change with their age. Question is HOW do I know as a parent when to teach my kid what?
A. You are so right. It's a continuous process. A parent should be well aware of the sexual, physical, social & emotional development of the child. With this awareness, the parent will know what's coming next and what the child should know. Just like we know when to start reading and writing. Read as much as you can, speak to other parents, share your stories just like we do on all other topics. You will know. And of course, I am around now.
Q. How should we make our kids understand as to how to take care of themselves if they are with people of opposite sex? As in to secure themselves from getting abused? My daughter is 4 years old
A. First of all, abusers don’t have a particular gender. Be aware of all genders.
Q. It is so good to have you! Are you writing a book? You should...But more on when, kids these days face challenges earlier than when we did. Eg Questions like who is that eunuch? Should I tell my two-years-old now?
A. Priya, book in process. finger's crossed.0
Also read - How to find out if your child has been sexually abused?, All you need to know about the ill effects of Child Sexual Abuse, How To Help Your Child Protect Him/Herself From Child Sex Abuse, What Must You Know About Child Sexual Abuse?, The Essential 5 Step Guide to Empower your Child Against Child Sex Abuse.