Sex education is not something that you do one fine day by making the child sit and listen to all the biological and social implications all at once. But it is something you begin right from infancy, seizing the opportunity to teach the child whenever you can.
Infants and toddlers
Have you ever noticed a two month old baby constantly rotating his wrist and looking at it curiously? Cute! Isn’t it? Everything is new for them and obviously they are curious to know about themselves and their body parts. Even infants tend to play with their private parts and toddlers look at it curiously. There is nothing sexual about this, it is plain innocent curiosity. In case of infants, do not scold them, but you may divert them with other activities. Toddlers, who can understand, around the age of two-three years, should be told that these are an important part of the body which have to be protected and that boys and girls are both different and special. Simultaneously, they should also be told to maintain cleanliness of these delicate important parts. By the time they are five, they should know that apart from the parents and doctor who takes care of them, no one else should touch her/his private parts. Before kids begin school they should know the difference between good and bad touch. Help and respect their feelings, if anything or any event makes them feel strange, bad or uncomfortable. If you have already been telling these things to the child, she will certainly resist and report to you any form of abuse, if it occurs.
Where do babies come from
This is quite a common curiosity among kids. For 2-3 year olds it is sufficient to tell them that babies come from the womb, a part in the mother’s tummy. Slightly older kids can be told that like the bird’s egg, babies too come from eggs inside the mother’s womb. Generally kids upto the age of 7-8 years are satisfied with such answers. Kids approaching puberty may want to know more. Tell them about marriage, mutual love and care among spouses as the base for babies. Still it is too early to tell them about intimacy. But once they attain puberty and want to know more, tell them about the anatomy in a matter of fact manner. But always emphasize that the body of teenagers are still not fully ready to cope with the burden. This information is more important for girls, for their safety and health. Whether boy or a girl, always lay stress on the virtues of virginity, marriage, importance of career building and the dangers of underage, multiple and unprotected sex.
Sex education for girls
Girls tend to be the more delicate and vulnerable of the two sexes. Also, puberty begins at a more tender age in girls than in boys, making the changes more difficult. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to prepare the child beforehand. The average age for menarche (onset of menstruation) is twelve years. Some may start by 10 years and some by 14 years too. But the signs of puberty start appearing earlier, from the age of 8 or nine years, the most visible being the slight lump in the breast area. When the girl reaches the age of eight start talking about her growing into a beautiful woman and discuss about changes like breast development, roundness of the hip areas etc. Once she is comfortable with the slight growth of the breasts talk about hair growth in the underarms and pubic area. Gradually bring in the topic of menstruation. Tell her that now her body is getting ready to become a beautiful woman like a bud blossoms into a flower. This change takes time, say years and the body has to undergo many changes. Certain new hormones are formed and become active which cause menstruation and other changes. By ten years tell the child what happens during menstruation, the duration and the required extra personal hygiene during those days. Assure her that all these changes are absolutely normal. Inspite of this knowledge she may feel bad and frightened at her first period and would like to know why this has to happen. Comfort her by saying that you and all women feel like that initially but it doesn’t bother after some time and does not hamper life in any way. Once she is comfortable with the periods tell her why this happens. Menses occur when the unfertilized egg has to be thrown out and a membrane of the uterus ruptures for this. If the egg fertilizes, menses will not occur and this means pregnancy. Now is the time to make her realize the importance of virginity by talking bout the harms of pregnancy in a still developing body and the immense responsibilities of child rearing.
Tell her about the difference between healthy friendship and intimacy with the opposite sex. It is okay to get attracted to the opposite sex but there is a proper time for getting any further. Everything comes with a responsibility.
Sex education for boys
Puberty begins at an average age of 14 years for boys. Some may begin early and some late. By the age of ten years boys too need to be told about the changes that will occur in their body during puberty. Boys as young as eight can experience erections due to increased blood flow in the penis. Begin the topic when they you dress them. The apt time is when they pull their trouser zip. Start by telling them to be carefull as this is an important and delicate part. Proceed to tell that slowly it will start growing in length and thickness too. Prepare them to accept the change in voice as part of growing up into an adult. Explain them about the growth hormones which bring about these changes to help the body attain adulthood. Boys attain a spurt in growth, muscle development and facial, pubic hair during adolecense years due to these hormones. Try to make the boy feel that all these changes are normal and they naturally happen to everyone to become a handsome man.
Try to steer away the boys from internet use. By the time they are in high school teach them the difference between intimacy and friendship with the opposite sex, the appropriate age for intimacy, marriage and child rearing. Teach him the importance of first building a good career to have a happy relationship.
Going by the ever increasing cases of teen pregnancy, rape, STDs, broken marriages and unhealthy, unhappy kids, it is good go back to our roots and follow the virtues practiced and taught by our ancestors and saints. India may be the land of ‘Kamasutra’, but practicing ‘kama’ was solely for the purpose of bearing children at a certain age and stage of life only, i.e the Grihasta ashram. There clear demarcation of the responsibilities of persons in the Brahmacharya, grihasta and vanprastha and Sanyasa ashram, the four stages of life. It has always been taught to control ones animal instincts to achieve higher goals. Celibacy was strongly followed during the student (Brahmacharya) life, to focus on learning alone. Celibacy was also advocated in the Vanprastha ashram to achieve the goals of sanyas and the ultimate realization of knowledge. We have given up these values and lost ourselves in the glitter of the western beliefs. Obviously we are facing the consequences too. But kids can certainly be moulded to some extent. It all depends on the parent’s lifestyle and thinking.