My 3 year old son burst through the bathroom door and gasped when he saw me, “What happened to your penis?!” he exclaimed. (Note to self: fix the bathroom door lock.)
He was horrified.
“Did it fall in the potty?” he questioned.
“Did you cut it off?” he wondered out loud.
He simply could not contemplate why mommy did not look the same as daddy and his brothers.
Laughing, I quickly shooed him out of the bathroom. When I was done I found him so we could have a chat about his recent discovery: female anatomy is different from male anatomy.
Sex ed shouldn’t start when a child is an adolescent. It shouldn’t begin with an entire arsenal of information all at once. No, sex ed conversations can begin when a child is a preschooler. It begins simply. Naturally.
7 Key Concepts to Teach your Preschooler
Children are naturally curious. They want to know about the world around them. And even if they don’t ask the specific questions, there are lessons that are easy to talk with your young child about.
Below are 7 primary concepts that we’d encourage you to address with your preschooler.
1. God created you.
One of the most basic of lessons is we have a Creator. God created all things. The Bible is the perfect way to introduce this topic. Do you have a children’s Bible you read with your preschooler? This lesson probably has already come up if you do.
2. God made both males and females.
This is also probably a lesson that has come up if you regularly read a children’s Bible with your kids. When God created humans, he first created Adam and then he created Eve. Spend time talking about who your children: Who do you know that are boys? Who do you know that are girls?
3. Males and females have different body parts.
While the primary identifiers your children will use to differentiate males and females will be their outward appearance, it is important for this lesson to eventually be touched on. This is the lesson my 3-year-old son learned that day he walked in on me in the bathroom, but you don’t need to wait for such an encounter to have this conversation.
4. Correct names of body parts.
When I was a new mama and my first son used the word “penis” in front of a family member, I thought she was going to have a heart attack.
“Why in the world would you teach him that word?!” she exclaimed. “What if he says it in public?” she questioned.
To which I responded, “So what if he does?”
Is it any more embarrassing for our boys to use the word penis than if they use the word ‘wee wee’ or any of the other slang words parents teach their kids?
While I find that the embarrassment and indignation over children using correct body parts, by and large, comes from an older generation, there are still some in my generation that can’t fathom talking to their children and telling them what their body parts are correctly called.
If you are one such parent, I’d urge you to begin giving your children correct terminology now. Children need to know that boys have a penis and testicles. Children need to know that girls have a vulva and a vagina. When your children lay their head on you and ask what those cushy bumps on your chest are, don’t hesitate in telling them that they are your breasts.
These are all normal words that help us communicate.
When you begin having more talks as your kids get older, it will be infinitely easier and less embarrassing for you both if they already know some of the terminology. We do not want our children to have a negative stigma or feel shame over body parts. If we put out the vibe that these are gross or embarrassing words, our kids will pick up on it.
Furthermore, children need to be able to be able to identify using correct language if certain parts hurt or if they’ve been touched inappropriately.
Having the correct language makes communicating accurately possible. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.
5. Babies have both a mommy and a daddy.
It takes both a mommy and a daddy to make a baby. Even if both parents aren’t in a home, children need to know that it takes both sexes to make a baby.
6. Your private parts are to be kept private.
I have four boys. Four wonderful, rambunctious boys. When they are little, they have absolutely no problems running around naked in front of the world! This is one lesson, we’ve had to teach our boys.
It’s not always appropriate to be naked. In fact, most of the time, to their displeasure, they must wear clothes and keep their private parts covered.
7. You can always ask mommy and daddy questions.
This is something you want to tell them over and over again. Don’t let them forget that you are always available and willing to answer their questions!
What if your child asks you an uncomfortable question, or one you’re not prepared to answer? Or maybe right then is just not the best time to answer it. You can always tell your child, “That is a really good question! I want to sit down and talk to you about that, but right now isn’t the best time. Can we do it tonight after I put your brother to bed (indicate a specific time)?”
This will give you time to think through how to answer their question without acting uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Sex ed should be a natural revealing of information. Talk to your child at their level. Give them just the right amount of information.
What Comes Next?
Most preschoolers aren’t ready to have “the talk” yet—not because sex is naughty, but because they’re not cognitively ready to dialogue about the mechanics of sex. This talk needs to happen once they have the vocabulary and understanding. But we encourage parent’s not to wait too long for this.
Want to know why we encourage parents to talk to their kids about the basics of sex early? We’d invite you to read this article.
Keep talking with your kids. Keep an open line of communication. If you are feeling trepidatious about getting into the nitty gritty facts about how sex works, be sure to check out our best-selling book, The Talk.
- The Talk is a series of lessons using the Bible as a starting point for introducing your children to sex.
- It is geared towards children ages 6-9 years old.
- It provides talking points, pictures, and questions to help you have engaging meaningful discussions with your kids.
Here’s what just a few parent’s have to say about The Talk.
This is exactly what we were looking for in a resource for ‘the talk.’ It is easy to use, clear, Bible-based, & God-honoring. I like how the lessons give just enough information for younger children yet are a great springboard for further discussion with older children. -Kelly
Straight out of the Word! Not watered down. Full of wisdom in the first part on how to deal with the awkardness we felt … And might still feel as parents! I wish my parents got hold of this book. If you don’t teach your children society will! It’s biblical. Practical and to be used as a family study. Open and honest. Easy to understand. – Rista
I found this to be a perfect resource for “breaking the ice” before the world does. I can give him more info later, but it was perfect to introduce the subject with my oldest son and cover all my bases for the first round. Thank you! – Mrs. Massey
You can check out the details on what each of the 7 lessons covers here.