How to Navigate Your Child’s Curiosity About Sex

What would you do if your child asked you any of these questions? 

Ever been caught off-guard by a question from your child and unsure of how to respond? Whether you laughed nervously, changed the subject, or froze up entirely, these moments can leave you wishing you’d handled things differently. Fear not, we’ve all been there, and are still there at times! I certainly have, even though I talk about this every day. Even though I have adult children, I still get stuck some times.

Here are five strategies to help you stay engaged, connected, and be the parent that your child needs to answer any question about sex:

Here are five strategies to help you stay engaged, connected, and be the parent that your child needs to answer any question about sex:

Fake it

If a question catches you off guard, it's okay to buy yourself some time. Take a deep breath and respond calmly, even if you're feeling the opposite—shocked or flustered inside. Saying something like, "That's an interesting question. Let me think about it for a moment." This can give you the chance to gather your thoughts before responding in a negative way.

Have you listened to the parenting podcast that I was on? 

Read the blog about it here : Conversation with Rachel from 3 in 30 takeaways for moms. 

Apologise

If you initially brushed off your child's question or changed the subject, it's never too late to acknowledge it. Simply apologise and let your child know that you're ready to address their question now. Saying, "I'm sorry I didn't answer your question earlier. Let's talk about it now," shows your child that their curiosity is important to you. Sometimes we need to change our mindsets.

Tell Them You Feel Awkward

It's okay to admit it when a question makes you feel uncomfortable. Being honest with your child about your feelings fosters trust and shows them that it's okay to talk about difficult topics. My kids love it when I tell them how I feel. You can say, "I feel a little awkward talking about this, but I want to make sure you get the information you need." Who should be talking with our kids about sex anyway?

Circle Back or Start Again

If you weren't able to fully address a question in the moment, don't worry! You can always revisit the topic later. Initiate a follow-up conversation when you and your child are both feeling more relaxed. Saying something like, "Remember when you asked about [topic]? I've had some time to think about it, and I'd like to discuss it with you now," shows your child that you don’t always know everything (or have the answers) but you're committed to finding out and providing them with accurate information. Just make sure that you actually do follow through the conversation. I might sound like a broken record here but remember it can’t possibly be one conversation as there's too much to talk about in one chat.

Be Proactive

To ensure that tough questions don't always catch you off guard, consider putting reminders to discuss certain topics with your child. Go for a walk around the block, and watch TV with them as this can often bring up topics that can relate to them or they are interested in. Ask questions like ‘Does anyone at school ever talk about something called pornography?’ or “Do you know what a period is?” This proactive approach can help you feel more prepared and confident when those conversations arise, or you can chat about these things when you are fully ready and prepared to do so.

Final Words

Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers. Utilise age-appropriate resources, such as books or websites, to supplement your discussions and provide accurate information. Also seek support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals —or feel free to ask me if you need guidance or reassurance.

In the end, staying engaged and open to your child’s questions will strengthen your relationship with them and be the askable parent that they need.

I have so many books about puberty on my website. Here are just a few of them:

More Secret Girls' Business - Book review by Rowena Thomas | 'Amazing Me'

Tweens: What Kids Need Now, Before the Teenage Years

Michelle Mitchell's book, "Tweens: What kids need now, before the teenage years," is a guide for parents with children aged between nine and twelve. Published in 2023, it can transform your parenting approach during these important "between" years.

Parents' Guide to Child Protection Education - Book review by Rowena Thomas | 'Amazing Me'

Parent's Guide to Child Protection Education

Holly-Ann Martin has spent the past 30 years educating people about child abuse prevention and  this comprehensive resource for parents, educators and caregivers will help by giving you tools to educate the children in your care about sexual abuse.

Tell Me - - Book review by Rowena Thomas | 'Amazing Me'

Tell Me

This book answers the questions that our children are asking. Kids also ask the kind of questions that, to a lot of adults, may seem awkward to answer. With this book as a guide, you can finally give factual, age-appropriate answers for their questions about their bodies, sex, and relationships.

The Sex Education Answer Book - Book review by Rowena Thomas | 'Amazing Me'

The Sex Education Answer Book

One thing that makes conversations about sex awkward is not knowing how to properly answer your children's questions. 

Like this post? Share it: 

Picture of Rowena

Rowena

The facilitator of ‘Amazing Me’, Rowena is a primary trained school teacher, with more than 30 years of experience in sexuality education and a mum of three adult children.

Rowena understands the many complexities and challenges at different stages in a child’s life when talking about tough topics like sex and puberty.

She is passionate about what she does with the goal that open and positive conversations will be started and continued, that puberty is ‘normalised’, relationships enriched and strengthened and as a result, wise choices are made in the future.