Sex education for toddlers and preschoolers: Chore or child's play?

Sex education for toddlers and preschoolers, how do you do that? And when do you start with this?

Every parent knows them, those embarrassing moments: daddy is peeing, your child pulls the door of the toilet open and cries very loudly: hey, Daddy has a cockpit!
As a parent, you are determined to be very normal about sex. Later your children will come to you with questions and you will explain everything about how it works in the 'sex department'. At least, that's what you think.


The shock is even greater when your daughter of just 2.5 years old shows a lot of interest in Daddy's Dick and then wants to know if Mom has one too. At this point you can wonder whether you can not better ignore or reject these questions. You had expected this interest, but not before she was about 10 years old!

Sexual education - Not nearly yet?

The expectation that sex education is still far from your bed is an illusion. It will be faster than you might suspect if you hold your newborn baby in your arms. How do you deal with this? Do you call the creature by name or do you still keep it vague? From what age do the sex education actually start and what do you tell and do not? Can you tell too much?

Open and honest

Most modern parents want to be open and honest about sex. Depending on your own sexual education you have the intention to do it differently, or just the same as your own parents. It is possible that you yourself had to find out everything about sex or that your parents were open and honest. So you already have an idea of ​​how you will have the flowers and the bees with your own children. Yet it is not something you can tell at one moment. The sexual development of your child starts from birth!

On discovery trip

Newborn babies discover the world with their bodies: they feel with their mouths and hands. They are very self-centered: if they are hungry they want to eat, when they are tired they fall asleep and when they are sad they want to be cuddled. Cuddling is a first introduction to the pleasant experience of physical contact. It gives them a secure and pleasant feeling. Here the largest organ of the human being, the skin, is stimulated.

Discovery of your own sexual organ

In this voyage of discovery of the world, your child also discovers his or her sexual organ, just as they discover their hands and feet. In the beginning they will touch this by chance, for example, when the diaper goes off or when they take a bath. They then forget where exactly it is. The realization that it is quite pleasant to touch it is missing.
There will come a time when children realize that, for example, riding a horse gives a pleasant feeling. They remember where their sex organs are and often touch it.
Some young children already masturbate. For them, the feeling is similar to what they experience when they suck on their thumb. It has nothing to do with the romantic idea of ​​sex as it is the case with adults.

Everything has a name: collection of names for the pee

Your child has a penis or a vagina. It can be difficult to name this in practice and you have found a different name for it. Perhaps you are curious how other parents call the baby's plasser and it is nice to read which terms are used. has compiled a list with names that are used for the boy and the girl.

For the boy

elephant, whistle, genitals, cross, dick, penis, pielemoos, dick, cock, pee, piss, muscle, tolli, dinges, private

For the girl

butterfly, oyster, pearl, bibs, thing, box, hole, slit, staple (daddy has a dick and mommy not), pee, peeie, cutie, slit, vomit, vagina, bat, fore, dinges, privately


Toddlers of 2 to 3 years are interested in the differences between themselves and dad and mommy or brother or sister. Daddy has a cock, mom does not. I have a dick, I'm like daddy. Girls see mommy putting on a bra and saying that they want it too. The identification process of your toddler starts with the gender identification: am I a boy or a girl? It is nice for your child to always ask for this. Your confirmation of the fact that they are a girl or boy strengthens their identification. As a parent you can of course be scared of this: is my child normal? He or she is engaged in sex all day!

Nose spluttering

Rest assured, the sexual development of your child has little to do with sex as adults know it. Toddlers discover new things all day long and have no idea what role their sexuality and sexual organs play in this. Nasal spraying is the same as sitting on their pusher. The natural embarrassment is still completely lacking. So it can happen that your child has to defecate and you, in a room full of visitors, come in smells and colors to tell you how the turd looked like!

In your nude?

From the age of 3, children are aware that adults have a kind of mystery around sexuality.
In the pool, mum and dad choose a private loft instead of the common dressing room. Children therefore see with their parents that there is a piece of shame about, for example, being naked. And children would not be children if they did not go to the limits of this. That is why your daughter suddenly wants to undress when a boy is around. It is not even about undressing, but about the attention she gets from mom and dad. In this case you can take your baby on your lap and cuddle to satisfy that need for attention.


The world of a toddler is all about itself. This is slowly changing: he or she gets through that playing with others can also be fun. The boundaries are being shifted again: 'dirty words like poo and pee suddenly become very interesting to say because mum and dad react to this. So you fly around the ears all day!
In this phase the fantasy world of children is also developing. You will be amazed at the adventures they experience in their imagination! This will also be expressed in the games they play with other children: pulling down the other person's pants or running with the underwear on the head through the room, playing father and mother. It is very touching when your 3-year-old daughter comes to report that she has a baby in her belly!


After the fourth year of life, the behavior of your toddler changes: he or she does not want to change clothes when there are other people, so you as a parent are not. The 'dirty' words will also become a bit more scary. Fortunately, this is a phase that automatically changes again. The games that were previously played in all openness are now shrouded in secrecy and take place in their own bedroom. You may wonder what you have to do with this now! Can you accept this mystery or not? Are those games going too far? However, it does fit in with the development of your child to experiment, however difficult you may find it. You can allow it, but you can set clear rules about playing:

  • You can not hurt each other.
  • Do not bribe: for example, if you take off your shirt you will receive a candy.
  • No penetration: nothing should be put in anything.
  • Stop if the other person does not want to play anymore.

You can make arrangements with the parents of the children your child plays with, what do they think of this and experience the same? As a parent, make sure that the children are of about the same age so that there are no power differences.

Define borders

You naturally determine what you consider acceptable. Do not try to give your child the idea that something is 'wrong' or 'dirty'. Instead you can indicate that there is a time and place for everything, so also to sit on your penis. You also do not fool your nose where everybody is. Children from 3 years old try to mimic the behavior of adults. When you explain to them that mum and dad can not sit in their pants with their hands in public, chances are they understand that this is not acceptable to them either.


From the fourth year of life your child will have to deal with falling in love. That will probably start with a special friendship to which the environment gives the label in love. Your child can get pretty upset by this. The chance of being rejected brings with it uncertainty and that feels your child, no matter how young it is.
If you notice that your child is in love, take it seriously and try to discuss it. Not every child will want to talk about it. Try to be open to the fact that your child has to deal with new feelings and does not always know how he or she should deal with this.
Books like Robin is in love and Beer is going to be a butterfly about falling in love with young children and can help to make the subject discussable.


Children can ask the shirt of your body for different subjects. The question: "Where do the children come from?" Is one of them. If children come with such questions, give an honest answer. Do not turn around the hot mush, but talk about it. You do not have to tell everything, of course, but it is understandable for your child. Adjust your answer to the level of your child.

Do not ignore it

It is important that you do not ignore or reject these questions with an answer like: "I'll tell you that." A well-balanced sexual identity begins with early and honest information. To deal with it lightly, you can read picture books about sex education to toddlers and preschoolers to your child. Here you will find many answers to questions that young children can keep busy, such as "How did I end up in mom's belly?"

At school

Is your child's sexual education a task for you alone? According to the Rutgers-Nisso Group, the knowledge center for sexuality, primary school also has a task here. Several websites exist to inform teachers and others who deal with children professionally about social emotional development in primary education.

Teaching material

There is teaching material for the primary school developed by Sanderijn van der Doef. She is a psychologist and sexologist and specializes in the sexual development of children. You can always check with your child's primary school or work with it.
Is your child going to the nursery? In childcare, people are well aware that they also play an important role in this. There are courses for leaders in childcare.


Are you further on alone? Where can you go if you as a parent have questions about the sexual education of your child? Below are a number of options:

  • The consultation office or the preschool office in your place of residence.
  • General practitioner, child psychologist or other confidential adviser
  • The online question. You receive answers from professionals such as sexologists and pedagogues.

Sexual education can be confrontational

Sexual education for children can be a confrontational matter, especially if you only expect the start of this upbringing if your child reaches puberty.
By realizing that sexual development already starts from the baby phase, you can be prepared for this. You do not have to be frightened by the interest your child has in his or her pee. By means of books, you can also discuss sex education in a playful way and integrate it into the whole upbringing. You can also turn to professional bodies that can help you as a parent.
For example, sex education turns a chore into child's play and it is possible to raise your child into a self-aware and sexually stable adult!

How do you deal with it?

In the reaction field under this report you can share your experience with our other visitors about how you have dealt with giving sex education to toddlers and preschoolers. Or maybe you have questions or tips?

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