You’re not alone if you think that sex education is something that you leave until puberty. After all, isn’t that the age that your own parents first spoke to you about sex? If they spoke to you at all, that is! If you are nervous or unsure of what to talk to your kids about, Cath Hakanson reveals the 5 essential sex education conversations that you should have with younger children.

Today, we do sex education very differently. We now know that one big talk isn’t the best way for children to learn everything they need to know to have a healthy relationship. It takes many conversations over a long period of time. Conversations should ideally start when kids are young, about a diverse range of topics that will ultimately help them to make healthy decisions about love, sex and relationships.

Here are 5 essential conversations that you can start having with your child, from a young age.


We can start talking to our kids about their bodies from a very young age. When naming the different parts of their bodies, make sure you include their vulva or penis and scrotum/testicles. And as they get older, start talking about the differences between boys and girls, the private and public parts of their bodies, and what your family rules are about nudity. You should also be talking about body safety in regards to things like touch, boundaries, saying no, consent and keeping secrets.


It is important that kids grow up knowing that there are many differences in the world. Kids need to understand that it is okay for people to be different. So start talking to your child about the differences between families, gender/sex, and in people. You might talk about the fact that you have green eyes, and they have blue eyes, and that’s okay. Or that their friend might have 2 mummies instead of a mum and dad, and that’s okay. Talking about differences means that kids will be more tolerant of diversity and less likely to discriminate. Plus it will have a positive impact on their own self-esteem and body image, as they’ll be more accepting of their own differences too!


We also need to talk to kids about the different types of relationships that exist. You might talk about who is in their family, and how families can be different or the same. Or about the different relationships you have with people e.g. family, relatives, friends, and acquaintances. You might also talk about how to be a good friend and how friendships can have their ups and downs. Talking about the different ways people behave will help to develop your child’s resilience and ability to respond appropriately in a social setting.


You should start talking about feelings, helping your child to name them as well as to recognise them. Talk about what makes them feel good and bad, what our different feelings can mean and how to manage them. Remind them that other people have feelings too and help them to identify what other people might be feeling. Talk with them about the way their body may feel, when they feel angry or happy, so that they learn to recognise the inner signals that their body gives them.

Life cycles

Kids naturally become curious about where babies come from, from around the age of 3 to 6, as they try to work out how they came exist. Or they begin to wonder about where the baby growing in mummy’s tummy came from.

So you might explain that the baby grows in a special place near the mummy’s tummy (the uterus). And when they become curious how the baby was made, you might explain that you need a special part from the mummy and from the daddy to make a baby. Then when they start to want more details, like how the two special parts get together, then you can start talking about sexual intercourse.

You can help to make this a natural part of everyday life by talking with them about the many other examples of life cycles that they may see e.g. ducklings at your local park, a new kitten, pregnant women. Talk with your child about the fact that we all grow up and go through periods of change, so that they are more accepting of changes that will be happening to them as they get older.

Things to remember

When talking to your kids about sex, there are some principles to remember, that will help to make talking easier.

• Feeling embarrassed is normal, and the more you talk about it, the easier it gets.

• Don’t stress too much about giving your child too much information. Anything they don’t understand they’ll quickly forget as it just won’t make any sense to them.

• Don’t feel that you need to talk about everything at once. It is about lots of small conversations that are repeated as your child grows up.

• Keep it simple and at the same level that you are already using to explain other things to them, like where the milk they pour on their cereal comes from.

• Remember to use books as they give you the words to use and allow you to introduce new information in a story. You can find some suggestions for books here.


About Cath

Cath Hakanson is a mother, sex educator and founder of Sex Ed Rescue.  Bringing her 20+ years clinical knowledge, a practical down-to-earth approach, and passion for helping families, Cath inspires parents to talk to their kids about sex so that kids can talk to their parents about anything! Sex Ed Rescue arms parents with the tools, advice and tips to make sex education a normal part of everyday life. Get her free age-specific guide on what kids need to know about sex here –

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