“Mum, where do babies come from?” ’’I want to be Cinderella, who will be my prince?”. “Uncle Tobi said I am his wife, am I?”. “Why do I have the long thing to pee from and, Susan doesn’t?”. “I woke up this morning, and the bed was all wet”. “There is blood in my pants, am I going to die?”.
The list is endless. Everyone is curious by nature, but with kids, it’s the kind of curiosity that comes with growing up, and discovering the changes that take place in themselves and, their surroundings.
How can we help them understand and adapt to these changes? Is ignoring them and being evasive the answer? Definitely not. If we don’t try to communicate and try to be interactive with them when dealing with their questions, they will only go to other sources in search of these answers. Believe, there is no limit to where they can get their information, albeit the wrong one. It could be the media, the internet, or friends who are as ignorant as they are.
It then becomes dangerous because, they are moving around with half-baked information which they then rely on.
When is the right them to give them ‘the talk’? As early as possible. Which is as soon as a child can talk and, be interactive in their own little way.
Start by teaching them the different parts of their bodies. Make sure you use the right biological terms and try not to show any form of embarrassment when using words like, breast, penis, and buttocks. Like I said earlier, they are biological terms not derogatory terms.
It’s of great importance you teach them these words, and also the wrong ways a person would touch parts of their bodies especially, in lingering ways. Child molestation is no joke and survey has shown that most children who are molested, are by people they were brought up to trust. Uncles, aunties, or a house help and most sadly even a parent.
Teaching them their body parts and the wrong ways these parts can be touched is a start. Try to build their confidence by interacting with them when they have questions. Don’t just instruct them on do’s and don’ts. It’s important to know their thought process. Don’t ever think they are too young. A typical 8 year old child today can be compared to a thirteen year old of child our generation. They have been made to grow too fast and wise for their age, thanks to the social media which we help in providing them with, via iPads, iPhones etc. If we are so willing to provide these gadgets for them, then we also need to start educating them.
From teaching them about their body parts, one can proceed as they advance in age, about other related forms of sexual education. Acquire books that can help in educating them. Picture books for the younger ones will be most helpful. Giving them sexual education is most advantageous, and will help with their well being.
The world out there is not helping matters, so we have to sit up, and stop being in self-denial about, how different your child is.
If there is one thing I have learnt during my road shows to schools, it is that a typical adolescent has two faces. The one they show to their parents to get them off their backs, and the ones they show to their friends who can understand their curiosity. I happen to be among those friends they open up to, which makes me determined to raise the awareness among parents that we need to start taking the reigns as soon as possible, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
Decide within yourself now, are you leaving ‘the talk’ until it’s too late? This is the time to shape their mind into what you want them to be and when they are older and have to take decisions on their own hopefully the voice they’ll hear in their heads will be yours.
Ifeoma Theodore Jnr, E.