As a parent, you want your child to grow up to be a resilient adult who can properly indicate and respect boundaries. And that certainly also applies in the sexual field. Unfortunately, a good sexual education is far from self-evident in every family. It is quite an uncomfortable subject for many parents. But there is also often ignorance about what children see and hear at a young age. So time for some important points of attention in sex education. With an overview of the developmental phases of children and young people, in which various aspects of body image and sexual education are discussed. But we also have great book tips for both parents and children.
Week of the Spring Fever – information and training
Every year the project Week of the Spring Jitters takes place at primary schools. A week in which lessons are given about falling in love, relationships, resilience and sexuality. The theme was in March of this year What do I like?. Through this project, children learn to talk about their bodies and their limits. Because that creates more resilience, autonomy and a positive self-image.
When young children are taught about their bodies, puberty, relationships and sexuality, they are better able to make responsible choices now and later. Every child has the right to reliable information that fits their environment or stage of development.
Website Sexual Education
Parents are of course also invited to discuss the topic with children at home. This creates a good link between school and home. Sometimes parents are afraid that children will be stimulated to sexual behavior precisely because of this attention to sex education. But research has shown that children who receive good sex education, on average, start sexual acts later. For example, they know better when they really need it. More information and tips for parents about Spring Fever Week can be found on the Sexual education website.
Sex education and developmental stages
Each age phase has a number of general points of attention in sexual education and training. But also: every child is different. So it is especially important to look at what your child needs, and what you feel comfortable with as a parent.
Children up to 4 years
Until the age of 4 years, there is of course no sexual education and upbringing, but there is a growing awareness of the body. Young children are curious and open-minded. They sometimes see family members naked and that makes them familiar with the human body. Children also learn to name their body parts. Because language development is very fast in this phase and children’s vocabulary is expanding. And then, as a parent, you can also start explaining what is for what. It is also important to stimulate the sensorimotor development of children during this phase. This means strengthening body awareness and the senses. For example, check out Ellen’s blog about the tickle box with tips!
4 – 8 years
In this age phase, knowledge about the differences between boys and girls increases. But also how babies are born, for example, is something that can raise the first questions during this period. Children want to know a lot in this phase anyway. Be sure to encourage that too. As a parent you can start by explaining sexuality in understandable language. The book Maar Hoe Dan, for example, is very suitable to help with this.
It is also very important in this phase to start learning to indicate boundaries. What do you like and dislike? Where can you be touched by someone? A kiss on the mouth or a hug can be innocent. But when do you no longer like something? Stop it is a well-known and important statement that children can use to indicate their boundaries. It is also important to indicate clearly that they can always talk to you as a parent if something happens that they find unpleasant. Even if, for example, someone forces them to keep it a secret.
8 – 12 years
In this age phase, children often come into contact with the first sexual images, texts and stories. This can frighten them, but they can also become curious. Especially children who watch a lot of online videos on TikToK or YouTube can come into contact with sexually tinted images within a few clicks. Watching from time to time can provide insight into what your child sees. Set age limits for videos on YouTube. If you notice that your child is sneaking, that can of course be an alarm bell.
Incidentally, it is important not to judge children, but to talk to them. What do they do when they’ve seen a bad movie? How do you deal with peers who forward things or make sexual comments? At this age stage, children can also learn about other forms of relationships, gender and identity for the first time. Also, let them know that there can be a lot of variation. And that if they have doubts themselves, they can always express this!
A lot changes during puberty and a lot of hormones also come into play. Adolescents often need more privacy and can become ashamed of the subject of body and sex. Then it is good to indicate that it is not strange how they change, nor that they become curious about everything related to sexuality.
In this phase, there is a good chance of the first sexual experiences, ranging from kissing to intercourse. About half of young people French kiss for the first time at the age of 15. But of course there are big differences in when young people become really sexually active. For example, through the biology lessons, young people have more and more knowledge about pregnancy, STDs, sexual organs, etc. When doing homework, it is always useful as a parent to take a look at this subject! This way you can also discuss any questions they still have together, and you also make the subject normal at home.
Going through the previous phases in a healthy way is very important in sexual education. Because then there is a basis of knowledge and information. In addition, openness and trust in your family is important. Also tell them that sex doesn’t always come naturally or is easy. There’s a bit of discomfort involved.
Teach your child that it is good to indicate your limits if something is not nice and you still want to stop. Teach guys to check with a girl to see if they can move on and to respect if someone wants to stop. Unfortunately, figures show that transgressive behavior often occurs:
In 2022, 30 percent of 16 to 18-year-olds and 33 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds say they have been the victim of sexually transgressive behavior in the 12 months prior to the survey. Women are more often victims than men. Nearly half (46 percent) of young women aged 16 to 18 have been victims, and more than half (52 percent) of young women aged 18 to 24.
Website Netherlands Youth Institute
Talk about sex education and training
What are points of attention to take into account as a parent when you talk to children about sexuality?
- Find a balance between openness and privacy. You don’t have to talk about it every day. And you don’t need to know everything your kids are up to. Let them shape their own lives and make mistakes.
- There are, of course, differences between children. A more introverted child will not like to discuss everything openly, while an extroverted and curious child will ask or tell you everything
- Talking to teenagers is not always easy. They are busy with telephones, social contacts, homework, etc. In any case, make sure that you also have a suitable book at home that they can easily leaf through. Put it on the table and leaf through it together.
Book tips Sex Education
Doctor Corrie answers*. We recently received the second edition ourselves. A book that manages to hit the right tone of informative, appealing and also a bit funny. Because keeping it light makes the taboo less. Willies and vaginas in different shapes and sizes, you can’t believe your eyes. But the book also contains many important tips about what you should and shouldn’t do as a parent.
It’s not weird though. A book with stories and poems that mainly deal with those feelings of shame that many teenagers have. Is it true that it looks like this on me? I’ve had a bad experience and I don’t know what to do now. All kinds of themes and experiences are discussed.
For more tips, view the theme blog with books about sexual education and information on StoerLeesVoer. There are suitable and informative books for every age phase, adapted to the age phase of children.