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Use Proper Terms: Infant/Toddler

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

How to Teach Your Kids About Sex


Infants don't have words so they rely on feelings to communicate with their parents. When they cry parents respond. Infants tell parents they are hungry, tired, or have a dirty diaper by crying until parents respond to their needs. Infants learn cause and affect through emotions. This keeps up when they are a toddler and they push the boundaries on house rules or throw tantrums. They watch and learn how their parents respond to them. More so than the words parents say, kids look for the reactions and emotions their parents display. This is one important reason why teaching kids about sex should happen when they are infants and toddlers. Parents display their feeling about sex and relationships by the way they react and emotional communicate to their infants and toddlers about sexual things.

Practicing using terms like; penis, vagina, and breasts when infants and toddlers are learning about other parts of their bodies is a great place to start. When parents normalize the "private parts" of a kids body there is no feeling of shame for the parent or the child. Since infants and toddlers sense feelings better than words this will create a comfortable environment and strong foundation for other conversations later on. Here are some examples of how this could be put into practice:

During bath time:

Parent: "Let's wash your toes. Your elbow. Now your vulva."

Parent: "Where's your shoulder? Your Penis? Your Ear? Your Nipples?"

These examples normalize their body parts and lay a foundation for talking about them correctly as they grow.

After a True Connection presentation someone attending shared this example with the presenter:

Once a daycare worker was trying to help a little girl who said her purse was hurting. They finally figured out by calling a working mom that the mom referred to her vagina as a purse. This is a good example of how using proper terms can help alleviate any stress that may have been felt by the little girl, not being understood, or the daycare worker, not understanding and not knowimg how to help.

During Potty Training:

Parent: "Did you clean your vulva/penis/bum?"

Parent: "It's time for a bathroom break, let's go take some private time."

Recognizing that they bathroom is a private place were they can deal with their private parts allows a child to set boundaries and keep boundaries no matter where they are; home, school, a friends house, a store, etc. If toddlers understand this there may be less instances of exploration with other toddlers because they know where and who can help them with their private parts. This is also a good time to start talking about how to tell a parent about some non approved person touching their private parts. Again encourage kids to talk about their private parts freely so that when these instances come up there is no shame associate with them talking about what parts were touched and how.

During an accident:

Parent: "Let's go to a private place (bathroom or bedroom) and take care of that together."

This is not a potty training blog but there are some things that will help kids feel less shame when accidents come if we respond in a calm way not shaming their mistakes when it comes to these private areas of the body. this may mean not making a big scene or telling others about accidents that the toddler is having during potty training. It may also be helpful to explain what is going on with those parts of their body during potty training. Another great occasion for using proper terms.

Changing Clothes:

Parent: "Let's go change into pajamas in your room, that's a private place, and then you can come back and play with your cousins."

This reinforces that it is important to only show private parts in private places.

Changing a Diaper on a young sibling is a time that this can also be taught. If you have a designated place for diaper changing then this shows an older sibling by example that it doesn't matter what age there are place for private parts. During pregnancy and nursing a baby are also fantastic opportunities to teach an older sibling about what parts of the body do. At this age kids don't think of the sexual organs in an erotic way, they are in a concrete learning stage where they are trying to find out: 1. what is it called? 2. what does it do? Sex education can start at an early age with these two questions being answered.

Again these are EXAMPLES not recommendations. Parents can decide what feels right for their family. The important thing is that parents hold a boundary about where private parts are exposed. Be prepared to explain the "why" of what ever the boundary is, because kids will ask. Also explaining the why gives them more reason to do it, even if they don't totally understand the fact that a parent has a reason is sometimes reason enough for them.

Start teaching early about private parts by using proper terms. Becoming your kids source for sexual information can start when they are and infant or toddler. If they feel you are comfortable and you normalize their bodies they will keep coming when they have questions or concerns when it comes to sexual information.

Start Early. Become your kids source. Connect2Protect.

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