Sex Education

The Birds and The Bees: Developmentally Appropriate Ways to Talk With Your Child About Reproduction and Sex
 As all of these resources stress, parents should start sex education, framed by their values, when children are very young. For one thing, this helps set the precedent for the more awkward conversations with your child when they’re older. 

Sex education is not just about teaching the names of body parts and how women get pregnant. It is about nourishing your child’s strong sense of self, and being in charge of him or herself. When children are young is when they are forming their sense of self, which should include positive attitudes about their bodies. This is when you can empower your child to set boundaries for themselves (remember our discussions on empowerment?), which is an important skill they will need for the rest of their lives, in every part of life.


Using correct names for body parts is important, though. One of the most compelling reasons to do so is that if there is ever a time when your child needs to tell you about symptoms in their genital area, or another person inappropriately touching them, they need the vocabulary to do so. If a child does not know the correct term for body parts, she or he will be ill equipped to let anyone know. As Rick Bartell says in his article, Age Appropriate Conversations for Parents and Kids, “Parents can be working to help their children develop a positive attitude about their bodies and can begin to give children control over those bodies by giving them a vocabulary as well as the positive attitudes that they will need to protect and enjoy themselves. If you can’t name it and you feel bad about it, then you can’t protect it or nurture it.” 


I hope these videos, podcasts and articles help you form your own philosophy of sex education for your family. Happy watching, listening and reading!
In this TED talk, Lisa Osherow makes talking to children about sex seem as matter-of-fact as reminding them to put their helmet or seatbelt on.
This excellent TEDx talk, Body Sovereignty and Kids: How we can cultivate a culture of consent, by Monica Rivera, who teaches courses on violence prevention, gender socialization, and the representation of identity in popular media at Colorado State University, begins with her thoughts on protecting college-age students, and works backwards to early childhood. ARTICLES

The Sexuality Resource Center for Parents has many resources, as its name implies, including this easy-to-read, bulleted list of what children need to know at each developmental stage.:
Rick Bartell, of Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region, writes clearly and compassionately about talking with children of all ages about their bodies. The sections on older children will give you an idea of what is coming in the future.

Here is a series of three articles from About Kids Health:
The first one has some general concepts to keep in mind, including appropriate information and knowledge for different ages.
The second one begins with the suggestion to think about how you were taught about sex as a child, and whether you’d like your child to have a similar or different experience. It goes on to offer guidelines for holding conversations with your child.
The third one encourages you to talk with your children about sex, and offers good reasons to do so.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ website,, offers articles about how to talk to children about sex, at different ages. 
This one is about preschoolers.
This one has information especially relevant for parents of young teenagers, but it is worth reading even if your child is much younger. has compiled a list of books for parents and children to read together. I used one of them, It’s Perfectly Normal, when my kids were of older elementary school age, and found it very helpful.
This article by Phyllis Fagell, published in The Washington Post, discusses, among other things, the important role that values have in your decisions about how to talk with your children about sex., part of The Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media, has pages for parents, children and educators. This article touches on some common questions, such as what to do when your child plays “doctor.”
From the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States:
SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) provides resources for educators, activists and policy makers about comprehensive sexuality education, but parents might find their work helpful, as well.
Here is one example: Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten through 12th Grade
Debbie Reber, of Tilt Parenting, interviews Amy Lang on Sex Education and Differently-Wired Kids. Amy Lang is passionate about helping parents talk to their kids about sex. 

This podcast features honest, graphic language about sexuality and body parts. I recommend that you stick with it to get an understanding of the concepts, regardless of your level of comfort with the language or with the very progressive approach to sex-education. Though it specifically targets parents of autistic children, all that is discussed is applicable to typical children.
Debbie, the interviewer, says, “Amy is brilliant at helping parents understand how to get comfortable being uncomfortable and foster a dynamic with our children that will result in healthy attitudes around sexuality, as well understand what consent means, and be savvy daters as our kids enter the teen years. LOTS to discuss, lots to learn!” 
Scroll down on this web page to find a list of books, articles and websites on this topic.
This short NPR piece is about a Sex Ed teacher in the Bronx.