Talking To Your Children
Parenting your child is already confusing enough without adding in talking to them about relationships and sexual consent. Talking to your children about healthy relationships and sexual development is necessary to keep them safe. Below are some tips and suggestions to ease the process of talking to your child; if you need additional resources, STSM has a video series on its Facebook page with tips on how to talk to your children about specific topics.
How To Start The Conversation
Use lots of little conversations, rather than a big “Talk.”
- With younger and teenage children, repetition can help your child remember and value the information you discuss as well as become more comfortable with you and the subject. Children will feel more comfortable taking advice if you have regular conversations with them versus a single, awkward, or embarrassing situation. Multiple conversations allow discussion of different issues rather than trying to cover everything at once.
Pick a comfortable, private place to talk.
- Pick a place you and your child will both be comfortable. Try to pick somewhere that will encourage your child to engage with you, rather than feel like they are being disciplined or judged. Make sure you can give your child your full attention without interruptions.
Use language they can relate to.
- This doesn’t mean you have to use slang to communicate or vocabulary above their age, but by using phrases your child is familiar with, you can make what you are talking about more relevant and couch what you are saying in terms they’ll understand.
Ask questions and let your child do the talking.
- This is the best way to understand how your child is thinking and feeling. It encourages them to engage with you and lets you gauge how much they know. By asking questions, you can encourage them to think over potential consequences of their decisions, a lesson that sticks better when they arrive at those conclusions on their own instead of having a parent employ scare tactics.
Be engaged in your child’s life.
- The more involved you are in your child’s life the more likely you are to know if something is bothering them. By asking about school or club activities and listening to the responses they give, you show your child you care about them and they can talk to you.
Be available and approachable; treat your child with respect.
- If you are trying to make sure your child comes to you with questions or problems, be sure to be available to talk to them when they ask it. Make time to talk to your child, give them your full attention and be sure not to brush off their concerns. If your child brings up a problem, believe them and trust them.
How To Respond
Teenagers face different life scenarios than 5 year olds. Below are some suggestions on important topics to cover with older children.