When it comes to some “hot” sex education topics like sex, dedesturbation, body autonomy and consent, I believe we are making some mistakes. Leaving these topics for the school curriculum to teach or completely avoiding the situation shouldn’t be an option. Parents should be the greatest influence in their children’s lives. Our kids need us and it is our job as parents to protect them.

Last week I was going through some old photos of my husband and I with our son. He picked up a photo and asked;

Aiden: “Mom was Evelyn (his baby sister) born yet?”

Me: “No, not yet honey.”

Aiden: ” Was is in your uterus? ”  (such a smart cookie)

Me: “ahh, no… not yet”

… By this time I’m thinking oh boy where is this conversation going to go…

Aiden: “so where was she”

I allowed my scientific side to get the best of me.

Me: “Well I suppose she was partially an egg inside my ovary”

Theres a long pause as my son looks at me puzzled and rather concerned….

Aiden: “WOW mom babies hatch out of eggs like a bird hahaha”

Now I’m dying laughing knowing I have completely destroyed an opportunity to properly educate on the “birds and the bees”. I decided it was time to do some research into what is appropriate for a 4 year old to know. I definitely didn’t want him going to school telling all his friends his sister cracked out of an egg!

If your young children are anything like mine they are curious about almost everything! They are especially fascinated with their bodies, about where babies come from and how they were made. We get endless questions like, “Does grandma have a penis?” and “What makes a boy a boy?”

Some of their questions are easy to answer. Others are more difficult. I sorted through the sex education literature and expert opinions for material that I am confidence and comfortable with. This is what I have found to be important and age-appropriate and scientifically accurate. I have also included some conversation “activities” that  I believe would be comprehendible for four, five, and six year olds.

Sex Education Tip #1. Use Accurate Definitions.

Often one of the first things children learn are the names of body parts such as toes and noes. Vagina, vulva, penis, and scrotum should be no different. Teaching proper terminology empowers children to take ownership of their bodies. Using all sorts of ridiculous words creates a sense of shame, a sense that I am too embarrassed to call it what it really is because it’s “bad”. The bottom line is you are not teaching sex, you are teaching anatomy.

I want my kids to use accurate words not nicknames to avoid any confusion over what part of their bodies they are taking about. Everything has a name and we should use the correct name. A vagina, is a vagina, and a penis, is a penis. I also want them to know its OKAY to talk about any part of their body. I believe kids should view their entire body as healthy and there’s no particular part of their body that’s shameful. Speak openly to our kids about that part of their bodies we illustrate to them that its ok from them to come to us and that its not something to have to hide.

Activity: Discuss how boys and girls are the same and how they are different.  Educate your children that some of these parts are on the OUTSIDE of our bodies and some of these parts are on the INSIDE.

Sex Education Tip #2 Discuss consent, body rights and privacy.

Sex abuse prevention educators want parents to spend time teaching their children that their private parts are off limits to others. They also advise that even young children should be able to discuss parts of their bodies in ways everyone can understand instead of using made up terms.

As parents when it comes to helping children practice bodily autonomy, which is at the root of consent, we are making some mistakes. As I parent my own children, I have discovered that as adults we feel we don’t need a children permission to touch them. Let me explain with the following example. When we force children to hug & kiss family members is it possible we are sending our children the message that their bodies are not their own? Is it possible that this blurs the lines between safe and unsafe touch, or consent vs coercion? To us adults it is easy to comprehend the difference but it may be difficult for children to identify when they’re being inappropriately or uncomfortably touched by an adult or another child.

Here are some disturbing statistics:

  • About 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser (2,3).
  • About 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by people the family trusts (2,3).
  • The younger the victim, the more likely it is that the abuser is a family member. Of those molesting a child under six, 50% were family members (1)

The point here is not to create a suspicious sense of fear, but rather to illustrate the important about becoming much more proactive about preventing sexual and other forms of physical abuse.


Activity: Discuss “Okay Touches, and Not Okay Touches”.

Examples of “OKAY” touch may sounds like this:

We all needs cuddles, hugs and kisses from people who are good to us and love us but everyone requires your permission first. With your permission this is an “OKAY touch.”

If you touch or rub the private parts of your own body because it tickles or feels good, that is an “OKAY touch.”

During a checkup, your doctor may want to touch and look at your private parts to make sure you are growing and healthy this is also an “OKAY touch.”

Examples of “NOT OKAY” touch:

If anyone touches your private parts or any part of your body when you do not want them to this is a “NOT okay touch”. Anytime you do not want to be touched, hold hands or hug someone you must tell them that.  Use your words to tell them to STOP or NO. Even if this person is part of your family, a good friend or someone you love. Even if the person is bigger and stronger then you are it is not okay for them to touch you.

If any kind of “NOT okay touch” happens to you, come tell me or a grown up right away. Even if this person tells you to keep it a secret (I tell my children to never keep secrets). “NOT okay touches” must stop, keep telling grown-ups until they do.

Sex Education Tip #3 Discuss Eggs & Sperm

To avoid any confusion like babies hatching out of eggs in my story tell your children there are just two things needed to make a baby– one very small sperm from a man’s body and one small egg from inside a woman’s body.  The tiny sperm are made inside a man’s testicle. Eggs come from inside a woman’s ovary. Once a month an egg pops out of her ovary and travels down her fallopian tube into her uterus. Boys sperm and girls eggs are NOT READY to make a baby until their bodies become a man’s body and a woman’s body. This is why a girls or boys body cannot make a baby.

Sex Education Tip #4 The Birds & The Bees

While I don’t feel my son is at the maturity to discuss this yet, I still feel it is important he learns it from me rather then the mess of a sexual education curriculum in public schools. Our conversation will likely include the following.

When grownups want to make a baby, a man and a woman “make love” or have “sex”. This happens when a man and a woman get close enough together that a man’s penis goes inside the woman’s vagina .

**Children, like you, are much too young to “make love” or have “sex” like grown ups.***

Sperm travels from a man’s testicle through his urethra and into a woman’s vagina during sex. The sperm then can swim up through the woman’s vagina, through her uterus and into the fallopian tube.  If just one sperm meets an egg then something amazing happens– the beginning of baby starts to grow. At first you would need a microscope to see the cell but it won’t be long until arms, legs, eyes and a nose develop!

In the end, it is my goal to provide clear and accurate information that is age-appropriate for my children.  I hope to remain open to providing answers to nearly every question about birth, babies, bodies and healthy sexuality. I want my kids to be aware that sensations, appearances and changes to their bodies are perfectly normal and amazing! I want them to have a strong sense of bodily autonomy and what consent truly means.  As my children grow I will adapt my views and strategies surrounding these topics and hope to continue learning from experts, other parents and parent edcuators.

 How have you approached these topics with your children? Have you found anything to be particularly successful? I’d love to hear your stories!



  1. Snyder, H. N. (2000). Sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: Victim, incident, and offender 9 characteristics. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  2. Finkelhor, D. (2012). Characteristics of crimes against juveniles. Durham, NH: Crimes against Children Research Center.
  3. Whealin, J. (2007-05-22). “Child Sexual Abuse”. National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, US Department of Veterans Affairs.