The objective of this article is to help readers identify early reticence in children concerning sex which, if not corrected, may lead to difficulties with sexual intimacy as adults.
By: Susan Adams M.Ed.
Summary: Young children have a natural curiosity by around the age of five to ask such things as “where babies come from.” There are several reasons why a child may not begin to verbalize curiosity. This article seeks to examine these possibilities and suggests some remedies.
If a young child is around five and has been in situations where questions about babies might easily have arisen and they have not, you might begin to wonder why. Instead of having no interest in sex, it is possible that the youngster is very interested and has already learned a great deal. It is also possible that he or she has gotten the idea that sex is not to be talked about. It isn’t that thee are no questions on hm mind, rather he is covering them up.
It is easy to intimidate children who are curious. If you are strict about general behavior–politeness, keeping clean, not crying, being quiet, children can get the idea that questions about sexuality might displease you. If you over-emphasize being GOOD–“were you “GOOD” today, “be GOOD when you go to grandma’s”–children may get the idea that sex might be considered “bad”. Then there are the children who may learn from their friends–even at three or four–that sex is a secret and not to be discussed.
You can help in two ways. One is an indirect method. Loosen up a bit in all your relationships. Skip some of the rules and regulations. Children who feel a lot of pressure on them don’t like risking losing love by making a mistake. Asking about sex may carry that risk for them.
Work to make your relationship with your children more positive–play more and demand less. This makes children feel more comfortable and secure of their place with you and this is the kind of environment which is conducive to questions about sex.
The second way to be helpful is to learn to pave the way a bit. YOU do the talking about sex. That lets your child know that the conversation is permissible. For example: “I saw Mrs. Jones today and she told me that she was going to have a baby”. “Alice went to the hospital to have her baby today”. This is a friendly kind of gossip that parents share. You say these things where your child can hear. This helps him to know that such ideas are acceptable.
When children don’t ask questions (and sometimes when they do) about sexual matters, many parents wonder: Who should tell them? Should the doctor or the minister do it? Should mother do it or father? The answer from my perspective is that this is the job of the parents. Whoever is present should answer the early questions. Later, as boys and girls are developing and more is needed of sex education, I believe it is preferable for the same sex parent to take over. In early years, again, anyone can answer who is there.