Welcome to early elementary school, where gender roles become more important, and details about how babies are made are the focus of attention. This is also the age at which I would venture to guess that many parents start feeling uncomfortable talking to their children about human sexuality. Be calm and confident when your child comes to you with questions, and be on the lookout for opportunities to start a conversation about one of the following topics. You’ll notice there are a lot more topics here than in guides for the younger ages, and that shouldn’t be a surprise – more than likely, your child is spending a lot more time with peers than with you, meaning there are a lot more things to start talking about with your child. Here’s what you should cover at this age:
BODY PARTS (INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL)
- Boys have a penis, scrotum, and testicles. Girls have a vulva, clitoris, vagina, uterus, and ovaries.
- These parts determine whether a baby is labeled “male” or “female” when they are born.
- Both girls and boys have parts called the urethra, anus, and bladder.
- Both boys and girls have parts of their bodies that feel good when touched.
- Masturbation at this age is normal. Just review guidelines about when and where it is okay. DO NOT SHAME YOUR CHILD.
- Bodies look different and come in various shapes and sizes, all of which are equally valuable and beautiful.
GENDER AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION
- Girls and boys are similar, but are also different.
- There are girls who have boy jobs, play with boy toys, like boy colors, etc., and vice versa.
- Saying “all boys like blue” or “all girls like pink” is something called a “stereotype,” and simply isn’t true.
- Human beings love in all sorts of ways.
- Lots of men and women are “heterosexual,” which means they fall in love with someone of the opposite gender.
- Another word for this might be “straight.”
- Some men and women are “homosexual,” which means they call in love with someone of the same gender.
- Other words for this might be “gay” or “lesbian.”
- NOTE: If you aren’t sure why you should be talking about homosexuality, just consider that many children by this point have already engaged in “play” relationships at school – i.e., “I have a boyfriend.” They will begin to hear about same-sex/alternative relationships (if they haven’t already), and is always best if they begin these conversations with YOU, instead of peers at school.
BEING HEALTHY AND SAFE
- A person’s body belongs to him or her ONLY.
- All people – grownups AND kids – have a right to tell someone to stop touching them when they don’t want to be touched.
- Sometimes adults might need to touch or see your body, like when your parent gives you a bath or you go to the doctor.
- If someone touches you in an uncomfortable way, you should tell an adult that you trust (make a list of who this could be – including teachers).
- If a child is touched in a way that is bad or uncomfortable, it is NEVER their fault.
- All kids should be learning how to take care of their bodies – brushing teeth, combing hair, bathing, wiping after the bathroom, etc.
- Puberty is when bodies change from kid bodies, to more adult bodies.
- Most people notice changes in their bodies, but emotions go through a lot of changes too.
- Talk with your child about what they can expect at the beginning of puberty – breasts, hair, voice changes, etc.
BABIES AND BIRTH
- For a baby to be born, cells from both a man and woman are needed.
- Babies grow inside a woman’s uterus.
- Babies are born by coming out of an opening in a woman’s body called the vagina, or by a procedure called a cesarean section.
- People can only have babies after going through puberty.
- When most people talk about “sex,” they are talking about “sexual intercourse.”
- Sexual intercourse is when a man and woman (start talking about healthy sex as a MUTUAL decision) place the man’s penis inside the woman’s vagina.
- Sex is what allows the cells from men and women to come together to make a baby.
- When a baby is born, a woman’s breasts make milk for the baby.
TECHNOLOGY AND SEX
- Sometimes people look at images of naked people, or people having sex, on the internet, but this is not for kids.
- Explain what your children should do WHEN they come across these images – whether by accident, or by a friend or family member.
- Do not punish them for coming to you if they run across these images, but talk with them about what to do next time, or how to handle a similar situation. **If they come to you, they aren’t ashamed of it, and will look to you for advice later on.**
MY BIGGEST TIP FOR THIS AGE GROUP IS TO MAKE SURE YOU REPEATEDLY TELL YOUR CHILDREN:
a) they can ALWAYS ask you questions
b) you will ALWAYS give them honest answers.
If you’re not giving them the information (sometimes, even before they’ve asked about it), they’ll get it from somewhere. And chances are, it won’t be as accurate or appropriate.