“The Talk” With Young Kids
By Anna Philipsen of Pure Desire Ministries
I still haven’t figured out how the mind-reading was happening but all I can assume is it wasn’t “thoughts” but “talks” about naked girls. And so for the fourth time that month, we talked about girls, boys, and the way God made us.
This happened earlier this year when my boys were seven, five, and three. All three of them were in the car and this was an open conversation on the seven minute drive to school. Some parents may hear their little kid say, “naked” and immediately respond with something shaming like, “Why would you even think that? That is so inappropriate. Stop that right now!” Sadly, this is a common response and can cause guilt and shame to develop in the child.
Most of the time, comments kids make are just a signal that they want to understand things more and need to talk. This is why creating a safe and open culture in our homes is so important.
Many parents seem to dread “The Talk” that they will one day have with their kid about sex. They keep them from attending the school sex-ed talks but neglect to talk about it at home. This puts the kid in a really tough spot because, let’s face it, whether we like it or not, they are learning about sex from the world around them. We have the opportunity to guide them in what they learn by opening up the conversation early.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NKJV
What To Talk About
I’m going to do my best in breaking this down by age groups. We will focus on young kids, ages 2-12. It’s important to understand that by starting these conversations we are changing the culture in our homes. We are creating a place where kids feel safe to ask about anything and we can guide them as they seek to understand the world around them.
Preschool and Early Elementary: Ages 2-6
- Talk about how God made them and every single part of them is important and just the way God wants it to be. Make conversations like this normal in your home.
- Help your kid know that they can talk to you about anything—even their body parts; even sex; even questions about inappropriate pictures they saw. Just like teaching them how to ride a bike, be nice to others, and tell the truth—we need to help them understand how to live in this sex-saturated world.
- Teach them to take care of their bodies and how to protect them. They need to know what to do if another child or adult tries to touch them inappropriately.
Elementary: Ages 7-12
- Talk about how their body will change during puberty. Talk about this specifically for each gender.
- Help them understand what porn is and the changes that it creates in the brain. They need to know they are not alone if they are feeling shame about seeing porn, thinking naked thoughts, or having naked dreams. This is all normal and it is good for them to talk about so we can help them create a plan to help navigate these thoughts.
- Teach them about sex the way God intended it to be, without shame. This will help them combat the lies the world tells us about sex.
As you talk about these tough topics with your kids, be patient. If they have questions, answer them. If they want to talk about it more, talk about it more. If they want to have space, give them space and come back to it another day. Each child will take in the information differently.
Keep the conversations open; so as they grow up, they can continue to ask questions when they learn something new. “The Talk” is not a one time thing. If you’ve created the space for healthy dialogue about sex, it will come in bits and pieces over months and years.
Books to Help Guide the Conversation
I love using books to help start or guide conversations, especially around harder topics like sex. However, I find that books are merely a starting point and the more critical pieces of the conversation happen at other times.
With picture books, I put one in the stack of other picture books we are reading before bed and read it like it is any other book. I find that this decreases the shame and puts less emphasis on singling out the topic.
For the older kids, many of these are chapter books and can be read with your child or you can read it separately and then plan a time to discuss. It is very important that this is something you are using to walk alongside your child and guide the conversation, as opposed to handing them a book and hoping they will understand it on their own. Try your best to avoid this and stay involved in the conversation, using the books as a tool.
Books for Preschool and Early Elementary Kids
God Made All of Me (for ages 2-8)
This picture book helps kids understand their bodies, that God made them, and how to protect their bodies.
The Story of Me (for ages 3-5)
This picture book is about a boy who finds out his mom is pregnant and the process of how a baby is born. It talks about the differences between boys and girls. It specifically names body parts and can be read like a story with no shame tied to it. The artwork is a little outdated but the story is engaging and brings up good conversations for young kids. This is the first book in a four part series called God’s Design For Sex.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. (for ages 3-6)
This picture book talks about what to do if a kid sees a bad picture. With so much technology being in the hands of our young people, this “turn, run, tell” plan is very helpful. There is a high chance all of our kids will see a bad picture on a phone, Netflix, or a billboard. They need to know what they can do when this happens.
This picture book teaches a child how to set boundaries for private parts. It talks about where to go for help and dealing with feelings of guilt and shame.
Before I Was Born (for ages 5-8)
This picture book begins the conversation about sexual organs and a simple tactful explanation of intercourse between a husband and wife. This is the second book in a four part series called God’s Design For Sex.
Books for Elementary Kids
Good Pictures Bad Pictures (for ages 7-11)
This picture workbook goes into detail talking about bad pictures and labels them as pornography. Throughout the book it talks about pornography, addiction, the brain, and how to deal with pornography when the child sees it.
What’s the Big Deal? (for ages 8-11)
The conversation about sex continues in this chapter book for upper elementary age kids. This book can be read by the child or with their parents. For some children, this may be too much information at one time if conversations about sex have not been a part of their upbringing to this point. This is the third book in a four part series called God’s Design For Sex.
This detailed study was created for parents to read with their elementary age children to explain sexuality with scriptures at a level they can understand. It includes diagrams and goes into depth on what sex is and why God created it. The conversations you’ve had and your child’s past experiences will determine what age is best for introducing this into your home. This is the first book in a three part series of biblically based studies on sexuality, puberty, and relationships.
Changes: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty (for ages 8-12)
This thorough study was created for parents to read with their elementary age children to explain their changing body. The book will guide parents through discussing the child’s mental, emotional, and physical changes they will experience during puberty. The study is anchored in Scripture and will give them a biblically based perspective on these changes. This is the first book in a three part series of biblically based studies on sexuality, puberty, and relationships.
How You Are Changing: For Girls (for girls ages 9-11)
This chapter book is specifically for girls in upper elementary grades. It talks about body changes, the importance of both males and females, and goes into more detail about sex, babies, and the beauty of God’s plan for us.
How You Are Changing: For Boys (for boys ages 9-11)
This chapter book is specifically for boys in upper elementary grades. It talks about body changes, the importance of both males and females, and goes into more detail about sex, babies, and the beauty of God’s plan for us.
So, You’re About To Be A Teenager (for ages 10-12)
This chapter book is written for preteens and covers topics like puberty, sex, peer pressure, dating, and friends. The authors included their young adult children in the writing so many of the topics are very relatable and real-life stories from their teenage years.
There is no shame in our sexuality. Even though the conversations can be awkward, they don’t have to be. For most of us, we didn’t grow up learning to talk about sex in our homes. Things are different now, so the way we talk with our kids about sex has to be different too.
Kids can access sexual images from devices in our homes, schools, and at a friend’s house. They are being influenced by our sex-saturated world whether we like it or not. This is why we need to be the ones to talk with them about it. If you can, start young. If your kids are already older, that’s okay. Just start the conversations and begin to see the culture of your home shift. Your kids will thank you for it.
God made us just the way we are and our young kids need to be reminded of this.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:14 NKJV