5-SMART tips on talking to kids about the birds and the bees

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“Where do babies come from?” is a common question that kids ask their parents. Have heard adults answer one of the following:

– They are gifts from God

– They are brought from the hospitals

–  A seed from the daddy and an egg from the mommy join together in the mom’s tummy. That’s where the baby grows — in a special sack there, called the womb.

The last answer seems more real and perfect. And kids of any age actually love that answer. They feel excited about their connection with mothers womb. I know of a kid who is now 4 years old, but still loves to touch her mom’s tummy. And proudly calls it her previous home. Little elderly kids often ask “But how do babies enter the tummy?”

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Like all other parents, I was once faced with such a question. I was nervous about discussing the topic with my little one. Nervous because my mom never talked to me about it, and I was unsure of where to begin/what to say/ how to keep it appropriate for a 7 year old’s ears. I thought for a while. I decided to explain it by connecting to the plant kingdom. “Remember, the other day we planted the tomato seeds. Then you watered them daily. And when it was time, the seeds broke open the soil, and there were saplings. Did you notice how a small stem comes out first, then it grows one or two leaves, and then grows a bit taller. And then more leaves come out and the plant grows bigger. The same thing happens to a human baby. First, it is like a seed in the mother’s womb. Then the baby starts to grow very tiny hands and legs. Gradually the body develops, a face forms, and the fingers and toes start to appear. After a few months the baby develops into a shape that we are used to seeing.”  Generally this works to satiate the curiosity at that age. If the child persists on how the baby comes into the womb in the first place, then you may want to defer more details until the child grows a bit. Usually explaining that they would be learning more details about how the body works in higher science classes helps. And that you would be able to explain more when they learn more about science. Of course, do encourage that they ask you quesstions and end with – you can always ask questions to me or your daddy. “

For parents of elder kids, the same can be explained again using more examples from nature. Usually from 6th grade onwards, kids study reproduction of plants at school. This is the right time to talk about the changes that will happen to the body because of puberty. And introduce to the sperm and egg concept. What about explaining reproduction using a dissected hibiscus flower? The flower contains both the male and female parts. The male part (stamen) of the flower consists of stem-like filaments and each filament ends with the pollen-producing anther. The base of the filament is attached to a cylinder-like stem, known as a staminal column or stamen tube. The pistil is the female reproductive part of a plant. The pistil is made up of the ovary where seeds develop, the stigma that catches pollen and the style that is the tube between the stigma and ovary. Hibiscus pollen germinates on the stamen, the male part of the plant. From the stamen, it is transferred to the stigma pads of the pistil, the female parts of the plant. The transfer happen on own or by birds and the bees. From the pistil, the pollen finds its way to the ovules of the ovary. If the flower is pollinated, a seed pod will develop. The ovary at the base of the flower will swell. Over the course of the next six to 14 weeks, seeds will develop inside it. Eventually the pod will dry and open, releasing the seeds.

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Now-a days, its very important that parents talk to kids about body parts, the swim-suit rule, and about good touch and bad touch. For 5-10 year olds you can refer to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bipMm76VWiU. There’s an elearning available that explains the concept using a ”Touch-Me-Not” plant. It is suggested to answer to kids querries and inquisitiveness in an age appropriate manner.

Here are my 5-SMART tips on talking to kids about the birds and the bees!

S: Seek opportunities. Have discussions early and often. This early and often is very important. If your child has questions about sex, you don’t want anyone else giving them the answers.

M: Make a plan. An important aspect to “the talk” is the content. It is very important to plan the content for the talk. Once you have the content in mind, the facts can be discussed over a dinner outing, during a walk together, or a long drive.

A: Address the concerns. It is best to address the querries as matter-of-fact as possible so that the kid doesn’t get the message that talking to you about sex  is embarrassing.

R: Keep it Real. So that the kid trusts you. Real does not mean with all details. The questions should be answered in a form of the truth that the child can understand, which means that you don’t have to tell the whole truth, you tell that part of the truth that the child can cope with. And you add more aspects to the truth as they get older.

TTeach privacy. A kindergartner should also know that her/his private parts are private. And that no one should touch her there but her parents or her doctor, and then only for help after using the toilet or for a checkup. Let her know that if anyone else tries to touch her there, she can and should say no, and she should tell you or another trusted adult nearby.

As a parent, I’ve learned to never wait to be approached. Feel your child out by asking questions. Get the answers, and then see what stage your child is in. I believe the line of communication should always be open and your child should always feel comfortable asking questions. If your child feels comfortable talking to you at 7, and they know it’s OK to ask, you may not get the shy teen who’s afraid to ask at 15. It’s our responsibility as parents to teach what’s right and wrong. We do with all other issues, so why not sex?

 


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