Talk About The Birds and Bees

Published on 11 June 2010

  • Don't laugh or worse, make fun of him. Your child shouldn't be made to feel ashamed for his curiosity.
  • Try not to appear overly embarrassed or serious about the matter.
  • Be brief. Don't go into a long explanation. Answer in simple terms. Your four year old doesn't need to know the details of intercourse.
  • Be honest. Use proper names for all body parts.
  • See if your child wants or needs to know more.
  • Listen to your child's responses and reactions.
  • Be prepared to repeat yourself.

If you don't know how to answer the question and need time to think about it, tell him so and then give him the answer later. If need be, you may want to buy or borrow a book from the library that teaches children about the birds and the bees.

18 months to three years old
Your child is curious about his own body. Teach him the proper names for body parts. Making up names for body parts may give the idea that there is something bad about the proper name. Also, teach your child which parts are private (parts covered by a bathing suit).

Four to five years old
At this age your child is curious about why boys' and girls' bodies are different. This is the time when children like playing "doctor." These are signs of normal interest. However, your child needs to learn what is all right to do and what is not about touching other people's body or letting others touch their bodies. No other person, including even close friends and relatives, may touch his "private parts." The exceptions are doctors and nurses during physical exams and his own parents when they are trying to find the cause of any pain in the genital area.

Six to seven years old
As your child approaches school-age, he should know the following:

  • Proper names of body parts
  • Functions of each
  • Physical differences between boys and girls

Children at this age may experiment with masturbation. Make sure your child understands that masturbation is a private activity, not a public one. Masturbation in private may continue and is normal. However, if he does it excessively, it may point to a problem. It could be a sign that the child is under a lot of stress or not receiving enough attention at home. In rare cases, it could even be a tip-off to sexual abuse. Some sexually abused children become overly interested in their sexuality. If masturbation becomes a problem, talk to your paediatrician. For most children, masturbation is nothing to worry about. They will grow out of it.


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