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Encouraging Healthy Sexuality

Regrettably, most children and teens are learning about sex and relationships from television, magazines, ads and their friends.

The media is full of confusing messages about sex, making young people think everyone is “doing it” all the time.

Talking about sexuality with their parents helps children and teens be safer, feel less anxious and more confident in making decisions about sex.

Your children and teens need - and want - you to:

  • Help them tell the difference between fact and fiction.
  • Help them understand what is happening to their bodies.
  • Talk to them about their feelings and their relationships.
  • Share your opinions and what you believe in.

Making time to talk shows you’ll always support and guide your sons and daughters. It doesn’t mean you’re encouraging your teens to have sex.

The 4-Point Plan*

Focus on the facts, your values and your child’s responsibilities and self-esteem when handling sexual situations and questions:

1. Acknowledge the facts

  • Answer honestly. Do your best to give accurate information and clarify any misconceptions.
  • Research the facts with your child if you don’t know the answer.

2. Communicate your family values.

  • Share what you believe in and what’s important to you.
  • Be a good role model and show by example.

3. Emphasize your children’s responsibilities.

  • Make sure your expectations are clear.
  • Help them understand the possible negative consequences of their decisions and actions.
  • Help them develop assertive communication skills for resisting pressure and committing to their decisions when friends disagree.

4. Respect and promote your children’s self-esteem.

  • Be encouraging: help your children and teens feel good about themselves, their changing bodies and emotions.
  • Let them explore and share their thoughts and feelings about sexuality.
  • Treat them with respect and keep the lines of communication open.

* Adapted from: Lipton, Matthew and Weber, Susan J. (1990). "Sexuality Education at Home: The Caring Parent's Guide", The Pacific Coast Centre of Sexology, Vancouver, British Columbia

Promoting Healthy Sexuality - Children

Sexuality starts at birth, but it's never too late to start teaching your child about healthy sexuality and accepting his or her sexual identity

Sexual identity means understanding your attraction to the opposite sex, same sex or both. Your child will start to develop his or her sexual identity at about age 5.

You can help children grow to be sexually healthy adults by:

  • Using the correct words for body parts and functions to help children respect and take care of their bodies. You can’t predict when and what your child will ask, so don’t worry that you won’t know the answer. Look up answers together.
  • Using positive touch to give your children feelings of closeness, comfort, security and safety. For example, hold hands and give lots of cuddles and hugs.
  • Sharing your values with your children. Knowing your values and explaining why they’re important to you will help your children develop their own.
  • Talking to your children about their responsibilities and the behaviours you expect.
  • Teaching your children to:

    • Think about what they say and do, and how their comments and actions make others feel
    • Use assertive communication to express feelings, resist pressure and protect themselves.

  • Talking to your children about sexual abuse: what it is and how they can protect themselves.
  • Giving your children equal opportunities and respect. Treating girls and boys differently can affect how capable they feel.
  • Being a role model for what you want your child to learn.

[ Promoting Healthy Sexuality - Teens ]

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