As parents, we all want what is best for our children. It's natural to want to protect them and guide them towards making the best decisions in life. One way to do this is to educate our children about their bodies and sexuality from a young age. Unfortunately, many parents struggle with talking about these topics for a variety of reasons. However, when we don't talk about the body and sexuality, children are left to form their own opinions and beliefs, which can be harmful and misleading.
Body Positive Parenting
Growing up, many of us may have experienced shame about our bodies, often stemming from external cues such as media or the people around us. But as parents, we can break this cycle by modeling and teaching our children positive body attitudes. Body Positive Parenting involves teaching children to appreciate and love their bodies as they are and to be confident in themselves. If you struggle with your body image or self-esteem, seeking professional support or joining a supportive community like the THRIVE Families Community, can help you feel more comfortable talking to your children about it.
Teaching Correct Body Parts
When it comes to young children, teaching them the correct names for their body parts is an excellent way to create a foundation of body awareness. Using correct terminology with children can help them understand what's happening in their bodies and communicate accurately with adults if something is wrong. The best way to teach correct body parts is to start early and normalize the words you use.
Puberty and the Way the Body Changes
Puberty can be a challenging time for both parents and children. Still, it's crucial to provide children with accurate information about the changes that will occur in their bodies. Normalize growing hair around the private parts, armpits, or legs, and discuss topics such as menstruation, wet dreams, or developing breasts or deeper voice openly. Acknowledging that puberty is a healthy process and providing an open-door policy for any issues can help your children feel more prepared for the changes to come.
No Body Shaming Zone
Body shaming happens when someone feels ashamed or embarrassed about their body or a particular body feature. Unfortunately, body shaming frequently occurs, damaging children's self-esteem and creating poor body-related attitudes. When talking to children, avoid using negative labels and try to focus on positive attributes. Rather than criticizing or ridiculing a person for their body, aim to teach and model body acceptance, empathy, and respect.
Talking about sex and the body is not a one-time conversation; it is a continuous dialogue with our children as they develop and age. Discussing sex with your children from a young age doesn't mean telling them every detail about sexual activity, but rather starting in an age-appropriate way. Age-appropriate conversations involve simple explanations of sex, pregnancy, and body changes, using straightforward and honest language that your child can understand.
By becoming a sex-positive and body-positive parent, you can create a healthy environment for your children to grow and develop. The earlier you start teaching your children about their bodies and sexuality, the better equipped your children will be to make informed decisions throughout their lives.