The birds and the bees(33 Posts)
At what age do you explain these things to your children. My 2 DS (5and6) found an unused tampon and soon found out how great they are at soaking up water. They asked what they are for but I haven't really explained. Now our dog has been in season they have questioned her bleeding as they were worried about her. So I was wondering how best to explain this to them or are they too young?
I have explained things to DS as he's asked the questions so far. He is 6 now, and has a reasonable understanding of the basics. I think generally when they ask they are old enough to know, in an age appropriate way. I try to treat it the same as I would questions about any other bodily function.
I had the same with my dd last year when she was 5. She knows that babies are made with 'seeds' from daddy so I went with the -weird- analogy of describing my womb like a hotel room for the baby and that every couple of weeks, my body checks if there's a baby there and if not, it 'cleans' the room and that the blood is what comes out and that's why I need tampons/pads. She seemed happy enough and wasn't upset by the thoughts of the bleeding. Hth!!
I would try and explain something at that age, if only to stop them picking up idea from somewhere else and getting it all confused. Like ilov3 says, it can be a very basic explanation about how babies grow in women's tummies (which I'd assume they have an idea about from seeing pregnant women?) and that once a month, if there is no baby, then the woman bleeds a bit, but it's all perfectly normal.
I'm a big believer that they are never really too young to know a lot of these things, though of course it depends on giving an age appropriate answer. I have a random memory of asking my mum, when I was very little, what "rape" was because I heard it on telly, and her explaining that it was just something bad that people can do to each other. No idea why that stuck in my mind but I remember it as it seemed the right answer, without opening the door for loads more questions.
The best advice I've heard though is to try and make sure your answer doesn't them open up a hundred different questions. They'll ask further questions when they are old enough to think of them.
DS used to ask me questins at random times about sex. Probably from the age of 5 or 6. I think he had pretty much 'got it' before they had the big sex ed talk in Year 5.
I have always just answered questions as they come up. Truthful answers, but age appropriate.
My DDs seemed slightly alarmed at the sight of blood on my mattress when they were 5. I told them my body naturally produces something soft that looks like blood, and it needs to be fresh -like clean sheets in a cot- for a baby to grow in. If there isn't a baby then the body gets rid of the soft stuff and produces a fresh lot because it only lasts a few weeks.
Answer questions as they come up - no more, no less (at that age, anyway)
'What's this for, mummy?' 'it is good at soaking up things <confirming they are right>, I need it once a month like all women do'
IME as long as you have a quick answer ready, they loose all interest once the question is answered.
I've never had The Talk, just called a spade a spade.
I answered the questions that DS1 (5) has asked, in an age appropriate way and honestly. He has known about periods for a couple of years and knows the proper names eg penis, vagina, vulva, uterus/womb. And he knew that babies grew from eggs after daddy had given the sperm, but he asked a few weeks ago about how the sperm got there. I was fairly surprised he wanted to know but just told him - penis in vagina, sperm to egg, it's called sex, something that adults do and said if he has any questions, he's just to ask. Just be matter of fact about it! Good luck!
I covered the basics of making + having babies and periods when mine were in reception year. It's made it easier to add more info as they get older.
My DS knew that babies were made when a mummies egg and daddies seed got together by about 4.
At 5 he asked how the seed got to the egg. I told him and he just said 'In there?' In a surprised way, so I repeated it, he nodded and moved into talking about something else.
It was just a fact, like lots of other facts.
Since then, we have discuses periods and tampons/towels briefly. It has never been a big deal.
My ds (5) asked the other day how babies get out of your tummy. Ds (8) has never wondered! I told him he and his twin sister came out by cutting my tummy and I could show him where the line is (but actually forgot later). I said ds1 came out a different way and that girls have a small hole near their bum and it's amazing but a baby can actually come out of it because it can stretch, although it really hurts! I said it's a bit like doing a huge poo that is as big as a baby...
No-one has asked how the baby got in there yet. Dd (also 5) said that before she was in my tummy, she was in God's tummy. Bless.
Oh yes, I have told them I have blood sometimes and all girls do when they get older. It's good because it means we can have babies. And boys don't have it but they can't have babies.
I have also found it best to answer questions honestly but age appropriately as they occur - kids are nearly 9, nearly 7 and 3. 3 year old hasn't asked (he would doubtless come up with his own weird and wonderful explanation involving wizards and magic atm...) but the older 2 have always asked, especially DD, and both asked a lot when I was pregnant with DC3 - they were 5.5 and 3.5 when he was born.
9 and 7 year old know about periods being a soft lining that grows inside a woman each month, for a baby to grow in, and comes out if there isn't going to be a baby that time, it looks like blood but its not from a cut or a sign of anything wrong. That's how I explained it years ago, so although it is not quite 100% accurate its close enough and has "stuck". DD knows she will have periods, and knows what age I started and what age range people start - all because she has asked. She has also mentioned girls at school with public hair, and asked when she will get that, and breasts...
They know about eggs and sperm, as I showed them in a children's encyclopedia when they asked, aged 5 and 3.
They know that taking the pill stops a baby growing, as they've seen me take my pill and asked, and they mention it sometimes - how they won't have any more brothers or sisters because I take a pill to stop myself growing babies. DD asked about a condom machine in a public toilet at an airport once and I told her what it was, but not sure she understood, as it probably didn't "compute" (I said it was another way to stop making a baby). We were rushed at the time and she never asked again - there was a lot going on and I assume she forgot, as she isn't usually one to let things drop.
A friend of mine told her 8 year old son that "god puts babies in mummys tummies" when he asked how they got in, and that "Doctors take the babies out" - tbh I just think that is setting him up for believing every playground rumour, or being teased... and then eventually needing to be sat down for some embarrassing, red faced "birds and the bees" talk to clear up all the misinformation, just when he's old enough to have got the impression the subject is taboo with his parents. Why do people not answer their children's questions honestly?
MrTumbles I'm in a very Catholic country, a few months ago DD1 (13 scarily soon) told me her friend's parents still insist they were delivered to them by a stork.
She can eye roll like the most cynical of adults
Best to answer these questions as young as possible when it just seems like part of the mechanics of the body rather than anything to blush or giggle over.
DD is 2.5 and knows that the baby in my tummy will come out of my vagina (though she prefers the word Nooni god knows where she learned that). She is also always twisting over in the loo to watch her wees and poops come out.
When the questions come, I will answer them, in the most age appropriate language I can.
I did the same as other posters and answered questions as they came. But I also bought a few books on Amazon - I think one was called How did I get here?
I found these really helpful and factual, DS used to be fascinated with the process, so asked me to read it with him often.
He is 9 now and still has a dip into the book every now and then as he wouldn't let me donate them to the charity book drive last week!
He's very level headed about it and uses the correct names (we do have slang jokey names but he knows and understands both), doesn't get embarrassed with conversations and it very matter of fact about it.
I just explain these things as they come up. Told my dd who is nearly 10 what an abortion was today.
My six year old asked if I like sucking daddy's willy a couple of weeks ago. She thought it was hilarious. That's the problem having big sisters and brothers. I've never mentioned oral sex to my children but they'll have heard about it from friends with older sibs.
Snap @babybarrister. I told my son pretty much everything at age 6/7 when I was pregnant. He wasn't embarrassed and now occasionally asks a quite logical question (at age 8). I don't want him to feel that sex is a shameful thing, or something you can't talk about. He knows that people do it not just to make babies, but because they enjoy it. I think we are really squeamish in this country about the facts.
We have a few books which he pulls from the shelf now and again to read: Babette Cole's Mummy Laid an Egg is a funny (in a good way) one.
I'm aiming to deal with questions as they come. DD is 3.6 and so far not particularly curious. If she doesn't ask anything before she starts school then I'll give some basic info.
I always answer whatever they ask. This means telling them what they're curious about but not necessarily the whole picture. Like the PP I've told them about periods being the womb emptying out the lining it laid down for a baby when it realised there wasn't a baby, and about the seed of daddy mixing with the egg of mummy. So far they haven't asked for details of how the two mixed! But when they do I will explain simply.
My ds1 (8) hasn't asked anything! Should I just bring it up? Present him with a book about it? Not mention it until he does ask? It's a bit odd, but he has some developmental delay and is a bit immature plus lives in a complete fantasyland most of the time.
My DD is 9 already, I have always answered questions truthfully and in a simple way. She knows about babies, pregnancy, menstruation, puberty. She knows a baby is made by male sperm and a female egg. But she doesn't know the mechanics yet! She hasn't asked, and when I try to talk about it she just seems really uninterested and bored. I'm actually starting to panic a little bit, as she is already 9, and I feel I should have told her everything by now. The right opportunity just hasn't arisen yet.
Can anyone recommend a good book for her age? I've had a look in WHSmith the other day, and couldn't find anything.
notmydog, me too - regarding panicking a bit and book recommendation. See above.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.