When I say, discussing about sex with children and young adolescents, this definitely raises the eyebrows not in the good sense indeed. Well, sex education is as important as other subjects that we discuss with our children. It’s a part of a holistic educational approach. Moreover, sex education need not be discussing sex as a whole. Rather it is about talking to children and adolescents about puberty, menarche, good touch and bad touch, respect towards the opposite sex, gender identity, healthy and safe sex practices.
I still remember the day when I was in class 8th how our class teacher brought up the topic of puberty, menarche, and discussed about the safety measures to be taken by girls and how to safeguard themselves in the worst times when encountered. Another teacher spoke about gender equality and safety measures and how the students in the classroom irrespective of gender can be supportive towards each other.
Nowadays, many schools are encouraging sex education through various modes that are age appropriate in the schools, that is carried out by the school counsellors or a panel doctor mostly. This is an iconic move indeed.
What is sex education?
Sex education is a process of educating children and adolescents about human sexuality, including physical, emotional, and social aspects. It aims to provide them with accurate information, values, and skills needed to make informed decisions about relationships, sexual behaviour, and reproductive health. The content and approach to sex education can vary depending on cultural, social, and religious beliefs, but it typically covers topics such as menarche, puberty, anatomy, contraception, consent, sexually transmitted infections, and healthy relationships. The goal of sex education is to help young people develop healthy and safe attitudes and behaviours towards sexuality.
Importance of sex education
Children and young adolescents are inquisitive. They try to gather information from various sources that might not be reliable. This might lead to exposure to a lot of information that is not trustworthy and may develop misnomers about sex and sexual practices. Early exposure to wrong information will make them develop fears, guilt and might get into unhealthy and unsafe practices of sex, that could affect their relationships when they grow up.
Hence, providing them with proper information to the limit that it is needed as per their age is imperative so that they don’t try to google information from wrong resources. It is as good as preparing them mentally and emotionally for various hormonal and bodily changes that come with the onset of puberty and empowering them with safety measures when they encounter any unforeseen circumstances that could be detrimental to them.
How to impart sex education to the child or an adolescent?
A smart phone in the hand and access to a lot of content that is not age appropriate is getting them exposed to sex, sexual malpractices ripping them off their innocence. Hence, sex education for children and adolescents should be age-appropriate and culturally sensitive. Here are some steps you can follow to impart sex education:
Start early : Children as young as 4 years old can learn about their bodies, while adolescence is a critical time to provide more in-depth information. Looking at the rising number of crimes against young children it is an uncanny measure to educate them about good touch and bad touch and strengthen them with safety measures to find a way out from the predator.
Use proper terminology : Use proper terms for genitalia, reproductive organs, and sexual acts. This can help children & adolescents understand the subject better and reduce any shame or stigma they might feel.
Encourage questions : Children are full of doubts and questions. Answer your child’s questions honestly and provide additional information as needed. This can help create an open and comfortable environment for discussion.
Address both physical and emotional aspects : Discuss not only the biological aspect of sex but also the emotional and social aspects, such as consent, healthy relationships, and communication.
Address values and personal beliefs : It is important to be clear about your personal values and beliefs about sex and how you expect your child to behave. Inculcating high values and belief systems right from a young age is the need of the hour.
Discuss the importance of safe sex : Explaining the importance of sex in a way that suits the young minds is necessary. Talk to adolescents about contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and the importance of protecting themselves. Children of this age get into unhealthy habits of sexual satisfaction through other means which can lead to sexual addiction. Hence, informing them about the hormonal changes and the consequences of it will help them sail through these hard times smoothly.
Consider seeking outside resources : Books, websites, and educational programs can also be valuable resources for imparting sex education. A spike in hormonal imbalance also leads to behavioural issues in children and adolescents. They tend to become short tempered, irritable, stubborn or careless at times. They must be made aware of this and the dire consequences.
Remember to be patient and supportive, and approach the subject matter in a non-judgmental and sensitive manner.
Role of parents in imparting sex education to children and adolescents
Parents play a pivotal role in imparting sex education to their children and adolescents. They can provide accurate information and create a supportive and open environment for discussions about sexual health and relationships. This education should start early and be ongoing, including topics such as anatomy, contraception, consent, and healthy relationships.
Parents should also be aware of cultural, religious, and personal values and use them to guide their approach to sex education. It is also important for parents to listen to their children’s questions and concerns, address any misconceptions they may have, and emphasise the importance of making informed and safe decisions. Children and young adolescents go through a phase of stress, anxiety and depression due to hormonal issues, and have a trouble in discovering their sexuality, these might bring about behavioural changes in them.
Some experience anxiety attacks or panic attacks for no apparent reason, being moody or acting stubborn all these are a part of this troublesome teen period. Parental support, patience and empathy is imperative in these times. Allowing them to open up and vent out their feelings will help them calm down. Home is a place for creating a supportive environment for discussing sensitive topics. Hence, be a part of your child’ growth and keep guiding them at every stage of life. One can also reach a family doctor to get guidance and help for the child.
Role of teachers in providing sex education in the school
Teachers play a crucial role in providing comprehensive and age-appropriate sexual education in schools. They are responsible for creating a safe and inclusive learning environment, where students can ask questions, learn about their bodies and relationships, and understand the importance of sexual health.
Teachers also ensure that students receive accurate information about human sexuality, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, healthy relationships, and consent. By providing this education, teachers can help students make informed decisions about their sexual health and relationships and reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy, gender identity, and sexually transmitted infections. They can play a significant role in turning down myths, and dispelling wrong notions related to gender, sex, sexuality, and puberty.
Moreover, teachers also have a responsibility to address gender-based violence and harassment, promote gender equality, and foster a culture of respect and consent in their classrooms.
Role of counsellor in imparting sex education
The crux of the matter is how to discuss this sensitive issue with the young children and adolescents. Counsellors make it easy. The role of a counsellor in imparting sex education is to provide accurate and comprehensive information on sexual health and relationships, while also addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of these topics. They can help them understand their own sexual desires and identities, provide guidance on healthy sexual practices, and address any concerns or questions they may have.
A counsellor can help these young minds in dealing with stress, anxiety and depression that comes along with their hormonal changes in a positive way through guiding them and bringing acceptance. Additionally, they can help promote healthy communication skills, consent, and safe sexual practices, and provide support and resources for individuals facing sexual difficulties or issues.
While attaining menarche and puberty brings about many mental, emotional and physiological changes, children and young adolescents find it hard to deal with them. Some children struggle with their gender identity. There is a sudden adrenaline rush and increase in attraction towards the opposite sex or same sex at times. These issues bring distress in them as they are unable to navigate it properly. Difficulty in communicating it with anyone, including parents, causes a lot of frustration. Here comes the role of a counsellor.
A counsellor, a child & adolescent psychologist is adept in dealing with these issues hence, they can help them channelise their frustration and other issues in a more constructive way. Overall, the goal is to empower them to make informed and healthy decisions regarding their sexual lives.
Discuss it with a counsellor at OnlineCounselling4U
Many parents are not educated and equipped enough to provide the right information to their children. Some might not have access to a counsellor too. But that doesn’t mean their wards remain uninformative about this key aspect of life. We have a great team of counsellors and child psychologists who are open to discuss things on various sensitive issues. One can avail the services while being in the comfort zone of your home and with utmost confidentiality. Finally guiding the young minds towards the right direction is our motto.
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