Parents want their children to come to them when they have questions.
But children don’t necessarily expect mom or dad to have all the answers.
This is especially true when talking to your kids about sex, says Chelsie Carter, community health development specialist at the Platte County Health Department.
"Even if you don’t know the answer to a question being asked, your children will appreciate your honesty and be more welcome to finding the answer with you," Carter says.
The younger children are when they’re introduced to body parts and safe touch, the more inclined they are to ask questions and continue the conversation throughout their life.
One of the most important things for younger kids to know is the correct names for their body parts, including their genitals, according to kidshealth.org.
This provides a good basis for conversations on safe touch.
“This is especially important in the event that a child discloses being touched in inappropriate places,” Carter says.
When discussing safe touch with children, parents need to keep in mind the topic of consent.
“By teaching young children about consent,” she says, “you are telling them that they are in charge of their body and to respect others’ bodies as well.”
To build a child’s confidence about giving consent, the child can decide whether or not they want to be kissed, hugged or even tickled. By teaching them this skill, they also will learn to process when someone does not give them consent to kiss, hug or tickle them.
When you build on these concepts, the hope is that when the child becomes a teenager, he or she will be more willing to ask questions about sexual health topics and have open communication about safe practices.
“When parents start having these kind of discussions early, the child has more confidence to come to them with questions, issues and other hardships they may be experiencing,” Carter says. “These conversations should be revisited and continuously being built on.
“This may be hard for some people to understand, but it is an important safety topic to teach children,” Carter says. “If you think that a conversation like this will be awkward to talk about with your children, just know that the earlier you talk about it, the more comfortable you will become over time.”