Talking about sex and relationships with your tween and teen

Start having open and honest conversations about a variety of topics with your children from a young age. By talking casually, honestly and openly creates an environment where your children feel comfortable coming to you with their worries, to ask questions or voice their concerns. 

Talking comfortably about sex and relationships builds healthy, open attitudes towards it. By laying the foundation, it will be easier to talk about trickier topics like sex and relationships with your tweens and teens. 

Don’t wait and then plan to have a one off ‘Sex Talk’. This builds the pressure and often makes it awkward enough that it never happens. So, start early and talk often as part of natural conversation.

Here are some tips to start the conversation and model healthy behaviour 

  1. Select your times and place. Prevent discomfort by talking when you are in a more private setting, like in a car driving somewhere, going for a walk together. Being in an environment where you can talk without being interrupted can also make things more comfortable for both of you. 
  2. Try not to give your kids too much information at once. Give them time between conversations to think. They may come back later and ask questions.
  3. Talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Discuss together what a healthy friendship or relationship should look like. Caring, respect, honesty, consent, equality, fun. Discuss what an unhealthy relationship might look like. Controlling, uncaring, no respect, dishonesty, pressure, etc
  4. Use media opportunities to discuss relationships and sex. Follow up relevant TV Shows or movies with discussions. Ask for their opinions on social media and sexuality, relationships and sexting, using examples from social media sites. (‘Have you or anyone you know ever been sent a nude? How did you/they feel?)
  5. Ask questions about how they feel and what they know. This helps you to gauge your child’s level of knowledge. (‘Are kids at your school in relationships?’) (How do you feel about the idea of having a partner?)  
  6. Search for accurate information online together to be a source of information for them about questions they might have and what to read up on in their own time.

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