The birds and the bees

Let’s face it, for many parents talking about sex with their kids can be uncomfortable at the best of times, and knowing when and where to start, and how much information to divulge, can be tricky.
Thankfully those nice people at have come up with a nifty new video clip which explains why giving your kids the facts could help them to make safer decisions, and offer some tips on how to keep those conversations positive and comfortable.

To accompany the viral, parents are invited to put their questions to child expert and former BBC Education Editor Jacqueline Harding in a live Twitter Q&A session this Monday. To take part, simply join on Twitter and post your question to Jacqueline using the #talkaboutsex hashtag on Monday 7 March between 8-10pm.


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Child expert Jacqueline Harding offers tips to parents when it comes to talking to your child about sex

  • Talking to your child about sex won’t make them want to have sex. In fact the earlier you start taking to your child about sex, the less likely they are to be sexually active at a young age – don’t wait for them to have a boy/girlfriend before you start talking about sex.
  • Practise saying words like penis and vagina on your own so that you get used to hearing yourself saying them and don’t find it embarrassing
  • Use everyday situations to talk about it – in the car, going for a walk etc, even if things come up whilst watching television soaps/films
  • You don’t have to wait for your child to start the conversation – they are very unlikely to between 9-14
  • You don’t need much detail until they are about nine
  • You can use the language you use at home, so if ‘willy’ is easier for you that’s fine. However, it’s a good idea to introduce terms like penis and vagina by the age of five or so, as they may learn those words in school lessons.

Jacqueline Harding has also highlighted a number of typical questions often asked by children aged 5-19 years with a suggested response for each.

For younger children

What are babies made of? The baby is made from a seed from Daddy and a special sort of egg that was in Mummy’s tummy – they mixed together to make a tiny baby that grows until it is ready to be born. That’s how you were made!

What is sex? Sex is a special sort of close cuddling and kisses that grown-ups do to show they love each other. Sometimes sex can make a baby.

How does the baby come out? When it is big enough to be born, the baby either comes out of a special opening between Mummy’s legs called her vagina, or a doctor will help the baby to come out of a special opening he makes in Mummy’s tummy.

If your child is aged 6-9, you can elaborate in the following ways

Where do the seed and egg come from? Daddy’s seeds are made in his testicles, which are behind his penis (or willy), and come out in liquid called sperm. There are millions of them! Mummy’s eggs are inside her body ready for when she wants a baby. When you were made, the seeds came from Daddy’s penis into Mummy where one of them joined up with an egg and made a tiny baby.

How does the baby get out? When the baby is big enough to be born, the womb will open up and the baby will come out of a special opening called the vagina between Mummy’s legs. It can take quite a long while. Sometimes babies are born when a doctor in the hospital makes a special hole in Mummy’s tummy, and gently lifts the baby out.

What is sex? Sex is a way grown-ups show they love each other. They cuddle and kiss, and the man’s penis gets stiff so he can put it in the woman’s vagina and that’s how his seed goes into her. It feels nice for grown-ups. Having sex can make a baby, if the grown-ups want one.

Point to remember
Won’t talking about sex encourage my child to experiment?! Research shows that teenagers from families where parents talk frankly about sex wait until they’re older before they start having sex, and when they do have sex for the first time they’re more likely to use contraceptives.

Talking about sex with teenagers

It’s really important to talk to your daughter or son about contraception
and safe sex. That way, when they do decide to have sex they can make the right choices and not take risks which could lead to an unplanned pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Keep up-to-date. If you know what they are dealing with you could earn their respect.

Of course it’s not always about boys and girls – your son or daughter may be growing up gay, lesbian or bi-sexual and they will also need good sexual health advice.

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