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Communicating with children about sexuality

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Amber Brown

on 20 February 2013

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Transcript of Communicating with children about sexuality

Amber Brown
Senior Community Health Educator Communicating
with children
about sexuality What is herpes? You want
to know
what?! where do babies come from? What's masturbation? How do people get HIV? The goal of today's training Participants will: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Increase knowledge around healthy sexual development regarding children and youth. Learn what experts recommend as age-appropriate information regarding sexuality for children at different developmental stages. Examine the importance of values regarding sexuality and how they impact the work we do. Increase their comfort level when communicating issues of sexuality to children. Learn strategies to tackle the sometimes difficult questions that arise when discussing issues of sexuality with children. Research on sexual behavior has show us that: What we know about sexuality Sexual responses are present from birth.
A wide range of behavior is normal and non-problematic.
Sexual development is influenced by many factors.
Youth want and need information on healthy and responsible sexuality. What influences sexual development? It is important to acknowledge the factors that influence sexual development: Family
Moral Values Sexual Development All individuals have “sexual values” or an idea of what they see as right or appropriate.

The “sexual values” of adults influence children’s sexual development. They can determine:
The behaviors we ignore
The behaviors we pay attention to
The behaviors we punish
The behaviors we reinforce For Example: One family may choose to teach their children the proper names for their genitals. Another family may feel they do not want their children to know these words until a certain age. The “sexual values” of each family determines how they will react to their child using a word such as penis. What is normal? Perhaps the most common question in regard to sexual development is what is “normal”…..however this can be a difficult question to answer because it varies greatly.

For the sake of clarity, we’ll build the discussion around healthy sexual development. Some Important Terms Research on child sexual development often refers to “sex play.” Sex play is defined as: Behavior that is exploratory and spontaneous
Occurs intermittently and by mutual agreement
Occurs among children of similar age, size or developmental levels
Decreases when adults/caregivers tell them to stop Birth to 2 Ages 3 to 4 Ages 5 to 7 Ages 8 to 12 Ages 13 to 18 Want to date.
Masturbation is common.
Experience peer pressure to either be or appear more sexually experienced than they are.
Fantasize about sexual or romantic situations.
Fall in love.
Experiment with kissing, touching or sexual intercourse. Boys have erections
Girls have vaginal lubrication
Gender roles start to develop. Children learn a sense of how a boy or girl “should” act.
Children will often touch their genitals
This usually peaks around 2 and decreases until puberty Masturbation often occurs. Children will use rubbing and sometimes objects.
Children often show curiosity about other’s bodies. This is typically not sexual in nature, but more about trying to understand bodies and the differences between boys and girls.
Children may engage in sex play with others. May be with either gender, but is not indicative of sexual orientation. Again, more about curiosity. Deeper understanding of gender roles. Often begin acting more “gendered.”
Sex play often decreases.
Masturbation may occur.
Questions about pregnancy may be more frequent. “Where do babies come from?” Need for privacy increases. Children may become more modest about their bodies.
Curiosity about adult bodies is common.
Children wonder “Am I Normal?” as puberty changes may begin.
May show an interest in “dating” and/or develop crushes on others in their lives. When should we be concerned? Adults often want to know when children’s sexual behavior is cause for alarm. The following table illustrates what is often considered healthy vs. problematic.
Problematic behaviors can be symptoms of child sexual abuse. 5+7= (cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr Healthy Problematic Sex play is with someone of a similar age
Child is giggly, happy, or playful
Undressing or "playing doctor"
Child stops behavior when told to
No bribes, threats, or force are used
Sex play does not harm anyone 3 or more years age difference
Child is aggressive or angry
Undresses other people
Behavior continues regardless of being told to stop
Uses bribery, threats, or force
Sex play causes emotional or physical hurt to another Talking to children can help.... children be able to identify & report abuse. Comfort telling parents can increase as well.
children learn about boundaries, how to treat others, etc
delay intercourse. Research has shown that children who talk to adults about sexuality are more likely to delay intercourse and use condoms when they do become sexually active. What are the
road blocks? The U.S. is a relatively sexually repressive culture.
mixed messages create confusion
As a culture, we are often reluctant to discuss sexuality with children.
Many youth receive little or no sexuality education. Young people
are less likely to take sexual risks if they have... a positive view of sexuality
information they need to take care of their sexual health
clarity about their values & understanding of their families' values
self-esteem and self confidence
interpersonal skills, such as assertiveness & decision making skills
a sense that their actions affect what happens
a connection to home, school, and other caring adults in the community So what do children need to know? Birth to 2
Ages 3 to 4
Ages 5 to 7
Ages 8 to 12
Ages 13 to 18 That they are loveable - this established through affection, cuddling, words, etc.
That genitals & bodies are normal. This message is sent by how adults react to baths, changing diapers, & children touching their own genitals
They learn gender roles through toys.Individuals have to decide how to support or counter this message. Birth to 2 Ages 3 to 4 That men and women have different genitals
The names of sexual organs
The concept of private - Your body is your body.
That we can sometimes say no to adults - especially if they ask us to do something that makes us uncomfortable
A basic sense of consent (Would you like to give Uncle John a kiss? No? okay maybe later!)
The difference between a "secret" and a "surprise." Ages 5 to 7 Answer children's questions as honestly as possible. (ex.Where do babies come from?)
An understanding that sexuality is normal & natural.
Further understanding of private & public
A sense of their family values around sex. (ex. A family might say "sex is something two people do when they are adults and in love.")
Ability to develop, maintain, & end friendships Ages 8 to 12 As their sense of privacy develops even further, they need adults to respect their need for space
Information on puberty & the changes it will bring
Understanding of pregnancy & basic STI information
A sense that they can talk to their parents
Understanding of their family's values around sex & sexuality
Skills for handling peer pressure
Ability to recognize & protect themselves from abusive relationships Ages 13 to 18 Comprehensive information about sex, STIs, & safer sex
Skills & practice to think critically about the media's representation of gender roles and sex
A continued sense that the adults in their life are trusted resources for questions about sexuality
Continued reinforcement of their family's values around sex & sexuality
Knowledge about potentially harmful consequences of sexual relationships Healthy Relationships Ask: What makes a relationship healthy?
How do you want to feel about yourself when you're with your partner? Healthy Problematic Both people feel respected, supported, and valued
Decisions are made together
Both people have friends and interests outside of the relationship
Disagreements are settled with open and honest communication
There are more good times than bad One person tries to change the other
One person makes most or all of the decisions
One or both people drop friends and interests outside of the relationship
One person yells, threatens, hits, or throws things
One person makes fun of the other’s opinions or interests
One person keeps track of the other all the time by calling, texting, or checking in
There are more bad times than good Questions, questions, questions! Talking to youth about sexuality can be difficult. Some common fears are: looking silly
feeling embarrassed
not knowing what to say
encouraging sexual behavior (In reality, kids who talk to adults about sex are more likely to postpone having sex)
feeling as though talking won't make a difference Tips for talking about sexuality Don't panic
Don't lecture
Be real
Clarify -- what are they really asking?
Pay attention to what kids see/hear. They do not live in a bubble! Let's Practice! Starting the conversation Sometimes asking questions is a great way to open up the conversation. Younger Children Do you know the names of all your body parts?
Do you know why girls look different than boys?
What does it mean if something is "private"?
Your aunt is pregnant. Do you know what that means?
What would you do if an adult asked you to do something that made you feel uncomfortable? Pre-Teens People change a lot during puberty. What have you heard about the changes of puberty? How do you feel abut going through puberty?
At what age do you think a person should start dating? Have any of your friends started dating?
Do you think girls & boys are treated differently? (If yes) How? Teens How have you changed in the past two years? What do you like and not like about the changes?
At what age do you think a person is ready to have sex? How should a person decide?
At what age to you think a person is ready to be a parent? Where to turn if you are stuck... Call a local resource - PPNMPBC!
Reliable & medically-accurate web sources: www.plannedparenthood.org
www.siecus.org Thank you! Time for a short break. Take care of yourself! What's sex got to do with it? Non-sexual needs that influence teen's sexual decisions A young person may decide to have sexual intercourse in order to: feel loved.
find a father-figure (or a mother figure).
feel connected to another person.
feel accepted or respected by peers.
prove one's heterosexuality.
feel grown-up.
feel successful or accomplished.
express anger and rebellion at parents or other authority figures.
earn money or other rewards.
initiate or maintain a relationship.
have a baby. A young person with a history of sexual abuse may decide to have risky sex to: Feel powerful and compensate for life-long feelings of powerlessness.
Prove to themselves or others they are not gay.
Prove that they have control over their sexuality despite feeling very out of control.
Express self-destructive impulses in response to terrible shame and self-hatred.
Get attention, touch, intimacy, and affirmation the only way they know how.
Feel they have worth the only way they know how: by being sexually desirable.
Feel alive and overcome a feeling of deadness inside themselves. A young person may feel that becoming a teen parent is a rational and healthy decision if s/he: is economically and/or socially disadvantaged, and: dislikes school and has a poor academic performance.
has few professional and personal opportunities available.
as few or no successful role models.
knows peers or siblings who are teen parents.
was the child of a teen parent.
lives in a community where teen parenting is the norm.
lives in a community where single parenting is the norm.
has reason to anticipate a short life expectancy.
knows that postponing pregnancy may risk infertility.
has a support network of mother & grandmother that is available now, but may not be later. Types of Questions Informational
Am I normal?
Personal Questions
Shock Value Be an "askable" adult Door openers Door slammers "What do you think?
"That's a good question."
"I don't know, but I'll find out."
"I'm trying to understand what you're feeling."
"Do you know what that word means?"
"I'm glad you told me about that? "You're too young."
"Where did you hear that?"
"If you say that again, I'll..."
"That's none of your business."
"I don't care what your friends are doing."
"That's just for boys (girls)."
"We'll talk about that when you need to know." 1. Try not to criticize or mock a child.
2. Find yourself doing one-way communication?
3. Taking a youth's problems too lightly?
4. Finding yourself giving too much advice? Troubleshooting All of us are growing and changing throughout our lives.
Everyone develops in his/her own way.
Your way is unique and special and valid.
Everybody's body is private and deserves respect.
Sexuality is a beautiful gift—something to be handled wisely. Messages Worth Repeating Birth to 2 Ages 3 to 4 Ages 5 to 7 Ages 8 to 12 Ages 13 to 19 Adolescent Development Retrieved 10/03/2011 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002003.htm
National Center on Sexual Behavior of Youth. Sexual Development and Sexual Behavior Problems in Children Ages 2-12. Retrieved 10/3/2011 from http://ncsby.org/Sexual%20DEvlopment%20of%20Children.pdf
Planned Parenthood Federation of America Retrieved 10/03/11 From http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/parents/how-talk-your-child-about-sex-4422.htm
Rich, Phil (April, 2002) Recognizing Healthy and Unhealthy Sexual Development in Children. Retrieved 10/3/2011 from http://www.mnadopt.org/Factsheets/Recognizing%20Healthy%20&%20Unhealthy%20Sexual%20Development%20in%20Children.pdf
There’s No Place Like Home Retrieved 10/3/11 From http://www.noplacelikehome.org/english.php?p=age4
Advocates for Youth Retrieved 9/28/12 From http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/component/content/887?task=view Sources fdfsd
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