March 6, 2012 | in Nanny
Even the most progressive parents quail a bit at the idea of tackling anatomy lessons for their young children. Plans to be enlightened and open about reproductive issues and differences between gender are easy to make before those questions start; however, nothing truly prepares for the first time a child asks about their body. If your little one is showing signs of curiosity, here are ten tips to handle the situation with as much grace as possible.
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- Beat Them to the Punch – One way of making sure that you’re never get caught off-guard by the question of anatomy is to explain it to them when they begin to show signs of curiosity. Demystifying the subject is almost always enough for very young children.
- Use Specially Designed Books – There are several books for children that take on this complicated subject, with different levels of age-appropriate material. These books can often serve as a starting point for the conversation, which is the biggest hurdle for some parents.
- Don’t Panic – People say strange things when they’re confronted with an unexpected and awkward question; parents are no exception. Try to stay calm and resist the urge to avoid the topic or change it altogether. Even if a child is momentarily distracted, they’ll still be left with unanswered questions.
- Answer Questions Honestly – It’s tempting to chalk new babies up to the stork to get out of the conversation, but this only puts off the conversation temporarily. When they realize that they answers you gave weren’t true, kids can also feel like the subject is forbidden or that they were wrong to be curious.
- Don’t Use Cutesy Names – Teaching your child the correct name for his or her genitals while they’re learning the names for all of the other parts of their anatomy does half of the job of this conversation for you. Very young children who ask about the differences between genders will often be satisfied with just the terminology and the knowledge that there are physical differences.
- Take the Opportunity to Talk About Boundaries – When your child starts asking questions about their body, they’re also presenting you with the perfect chance explain about physical boundaries. Teaching concepts like good touch/bad touch are vitally important during early childhood.
- Keep Information Simple – In an attempt to be progressive, some parents can overload little minds with concepts they aren’t ready to grasp. Instead of giving an in-depth lecture on sexual anatomy, try to keep the language clear and simple.
- Don’t Confuse Them – Using phrases like, “We’ll talk about it when you’re older,” only serve to confuse a child, shrouding the subject in mystery and causing school-aged kids to discuss the subject with friends that are likely to be just as clueless. In the interest of avoiding confusion, answer directly.
- Don’t Close the Subject – The conversation about the difference between boys’ and girls’ bodies is the precursor to the ones about where babies come from and later, safe sex. Instead of creating the impression that subject can never be broached again, assure your kids that they can always ask you about things that confuse them. Because these conversations can be difficult and unnerving, many parents only want to have them once; however, keeping the dialogue open will make it easier to approach related subjects as they get older.
- It’s Okay to Be Uncomfortable – While you should stay as calm as possible, it’s okay to admit to your kids that you’re surprised or a bit uncomfortable discussing the subject, but will always listen to what they have to say and answer them truthfully.
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