What happens when your five-year old asks you this question? Let’s face it, this is a straightforward question, that should be followed up with a straightforward answer. But umm…. maybe your first response.
Will you pretend you didn’t hear your toddler’s question, or even change the subject?
Will you compose a dazzling fictitious story in an attempt to preserve their innocence or your discomfort in explaining sexual intercourse?
Teaching your children about the ‘facts of life’ might sound tricky. For some, it implies breaking into a cold sweat at the very thought of it. The truth is that parents should not be nervous or even embarrassed. Your kids may already be exposed to sexual content in one way or another through television – including advertisements, music or even fashion. Their curiosity about what they’ve just seen may cultivate through conversations with fellow preschoolers. What parents should worry about is the ‘type’ of content that their children will come across. This creates space for many untruths about the concept of procreation.
For this reason, you should be the one to set the record straight about sex. Children need accurate information. Being honest with them about the subject of sex will sharpen their understanding and avoid any shyness that many feel when discussing the S word. You need not avoid the subject or create a once-off yet misleading explanation.
Your child should be able to ask you anything
“You need to reassure children that they can ask you a delicate question and get a sensitive and honest answer,” said Justin Richardson, MD, co-author of Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask).
By creating an open space for delicate conversation, your children will feel comfortable about asking you sensitive questions. This means that as they get much older –when they are ready for “the big talk”—they will come to you for answers.
“Many parents are afraid that they will frighten or embarrass their children when talking about sexuality. My advice would be to begin in the preschool years because they accept it. You can never say too much as long as you keep it science and health oriented,” suggests Meg Hickley who is the author of Speaking of Sex.
So, back to the question – “Mommy, where do babies come from?”
You may be caught off-guard at first. Perhaps, hesitate to answer this question. If at all possible, you should provide your child with an honest and accurate answer as soon as possible. Nonetheless, you may not know how to explain this topic to her, there and then.
“Let me think about it because it’s a great question,” suggests Robie H. Harris who is author of It’s Not the Stork.
Even though you haven’t provided an answer immediately, you have reassured your child that the question is neither irrelevant nor ignorant. Now, she will feel as though she has just asked a really good question! Even though you have created lag time, it is best to get back to her with an answer as soon as you can.
Your explanation of the ‘birds and the bees’ should be scientific and highly informative. Your honesty in answering your child’s question does not mean that they will develop an abnormal interest in sex! Even though the information that you will provide must be honest, it should be within your child’s realm of understanding.
Explaining how babies were created
Firstly, it is advised that you begin your explanation by emphasising that it’s a practice between two grown-ups [a mommy and a daddy] who want to make a baby. When making a baby, there’s a “special” type of love which they [grown-ups] call “making love” or sex.
Explain that the daddy puts “seeds” or sperm inside mommy. If daddy’s seed meets mommy’s egg, a little baby will grow.
The explanation above is informative (non-illusive) yet it is aligned with your child’s level of understanding at that age. If she doesn’t ask any more questions, the subject may be over and done with until further questioning.
If she asks more questions straight after your explanation, you may tell her that the daddy’s penis goes inside the mommy’s vagina. Use these names to describe the body parts — experts do not advise saying daddy’s “pee-pee” and mommy’s “wee-wee.” From the ages of about four to six children generally understand that making babies involve the body parts of adults and even more, genitals.
After the “talk”
You may create a follow-up conversation. Ask them what they remember about your explanation. This will create another space to openly talk about the issue if there is any confusion. What’s more, parents should not rely on children to do all the questioning. Providing as much honest information as possible will stimulate your child’s understanding of sex. Of course, provide as much as your child can handle.
After sharing this information, you might also be worried that your preschooler will talk to other preschoolers about sex. Children are curious creatures so it would be normal for the subject matter to come up around the playground. The underlying truth is would you rather have her share misleading or accurate information with other kids?
What parents should remember
Although you may dread this question, it is healthy and valid for a preschooler to ask. This gives you a great opportunity to be the one who hones your child’s understanding of sex. Being honest and open is the first step. Through this, your child will be able to come to you later on in life when the topic has other implications. For now, provide information that is within your child’s realm of comprehension.