Sexuality - Sexual development ... Would they have already done it?
"Mom, I always have such a stomachache when I have my period. According to my classmates it helps if I go to the pill. Do you make an appointment with the doctor? Then I will pick up the recipe myself next week. '
I told this story to my mother at the age of fifteen. Since a few weeks I had a boyfriend and I thought it would not be long before we tried 'it'.
My mother did not ask questions, although she knew best that I never suffered from menstrual pain. She called the doctor and made an appointment. The subject never came up again.
Sexuality - Flowers and bees
A quarter of the parents do not tell their teenage son or daughter about the flowers and the bees, according to a study conducted by the AD in April 2015.
Three out of ten adolescents aged twelve and older say that they have never talked about sex with their parents. Parents often find it difficult to talk about sex and it is also an uncomfortable subject for children, according to the research. And that is worrisome. When children are not informed in the right way, they form a - often incorrect - image of what sexuality is through television and the internet.
Especially at the time that children start asking questions, parents have the responsibility to provide them with information. When children receive reliable information about their bodies, sexuality and relationships, they develop adequate values and norms and learn how to treat each other respectfully. Every child deserves this information. But how do you handle this now? And what is the best moment for this?
Tips for sex education
Times change. Sex education does not have to come out of dusty textbooks any longer, but it can also be done via more modern media such as television, internet or (newspaper) articles.
- View (together) the Doctor Corrie show. Doctor Corrie provides sex education for children from 9 years. She talks to all kinds of famous Dutch people about how they have experienced puberty and does not shy away from difficult subjects. Every Sunday at 6.15 pm on NPO Zapp.
- Use a newspaper report or TV program as a reason for a conversation about sexuality. "I just read that ... did you know that already? And what do you think of that? "
- Create a situation where you do not need to look directly at each other. It is easier for children to talk about a sensitive subject if they do not have to look directly at you. For example during the dishes or in the car.
- Use humor. When talking about relationships and sexuality, it is best to make a joke every now and then. Humor can decrease any tension.
The best moment
But what is the best age to start with sex education? According to sexologist, Eva Broomans, you can not start sex education early enough. Children often start asking questions, for example in the shower. Try to find out how far the child is, and explain in simple but clear words. This can also be done on the basis of a (pre) reading book. There are several books that can help to explain to your child how his body and that of the opposite sex work. Examples are:
- 'The little Peter's book' or 'The cheerful pampering book' by Dan Höjer and Gunilla Kvarnström
- 'I love you' by Sanderijn van der Doef and Marian Latour.
Four to six years
If your child is between the ages of four and six, tell them that you and your partner like to cuddle and kiss each other. At this age children learn better how to 'behave' and therefore, for example, that they can not just touch or show their naked body in public. They are very interested in reproduction and perhaps even a little in love, often on their own mother.
Seven to nine years
Children between the ages of seven and nine suddenly experience shame to be naked in the presence of others. They ask fewer questions about sex because they notice that it is a 'loaded' topic, not because they are less interested. Sexual language is used when they often do not know what they say themselves. This is the right time to start talking about sex and where children come from.
It is useful to tell before the transition to high school what happens during puberty. Children can enter prepubertal at around ninth, although boys often 'walk behind'. The prepuberty can manifest itself in violent feelings, mood swings and the growth of pubic and armpit hair. Boys get the beard in the throat and wet dreams, girls get breasts and become menstruation. This makes them fertile and can become pregnant. In girls, puberty starts on average when they are 10.5 years old. In boys a year later.
During prepuberty, children get a little more interested in adult sexuality. Although they would like to know more about it, they often feel ashamed when they talk about it. If you find it difficult to discuss such things with your child, you can also buy a book on the subject. For example 'Are you also on me' by Sanderijn van der Doef and Marian Latour. This book explains the following questions: What is sex really? How do boys and girls differ from each other, and why? How does your body change when you grow up? And what is the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone? That way you do not have to explain everything yourself.
Puberty and hormones
What does all those changes in the pubic body bring about? That's because of hormones; chemicals in the body that regulate body processes. The testicles (in boys) and the ovaries (in girls) make sex hormones that, among other things, ensure that puberty starts on time and the child's body slowly turns into an adult. But the brains of the children also change, so that they start to look at things differently than before. They become more sensitive to stimuli, can be easily distracted and (temporarily) forget everything.
The hormones also cause mood swings. Some children become grumpy and do not want to be cuddled anymore. Many children feel very insecure in this difficult life phase. Let your child know that he or she is going through a normal process, which unfortunately will last for a while. The whole process of becoming physically mature and becoming sexually mature takes about two years.