She’s Not Too Young to Learn about Sex

by Jul 8, 2024Sex + Relationships

If you haven’t told your child about sex by 4th grade, I hope you'll read this. 

Every year, I seem to get at least one phone call from a panic-stricken mom with a child in the third or fourth grade. It usually goes something like this (in a flustered whisper)…

“Help!! My precious, innocent little [insert child's name] just came home from school and told me that one of her friends told her what sex is. She wanted to know how I could let her daddy do that to me. 

When I asked her to share what she learned, her description included words like ‘under the sheets,' ‘wiggling,' and ‘poking.' She seems upset and scared. Now what do I do?!?!”

That's the reality with late elementary age children. There will always be some kids in the class that have older siblings who have shared “the big secret” about sex. Or perhaps there's a precocious child who has developed his or her own definition based on unsupervised time with the media. 

No matter the source, most of the time, what's being shared among elementary school friends about that mysterious word is shaded with a “naughty” flavor that makes the whole story seem dirty and awful. 

And that's the start of many myths that circulate throughout the years to come.

How do we protect our young children from the scary and negative messages about sex? 

We have to get to them first!

Really. YOU need to be her “informant.”

If you can turn the “sex” talk into a special event with your child, you can keep the message accurate, simple, positive, and full of the miraculous wonder that reproduction really does hold. And there's no better age than 8 or 9 for this message. Any older, and it’s super likely they have already heard “stuff” and find the whole topic gross and embarrassing. 

But at 8 or 9, your child is more full of wonder than attitude, and that's the perfect time to strike.

Before I move on with tips for this talk, there is one disclaimer:

Do not believe for a minute that having “THE TALK” as a single conversation is sufficient.

When it comes to sexuality education, there is no such thing as one or two “talks.” If you've explored the Girlology app, you already know that. But we do recognize that lots of parents have the most trouble with that one conversation where intercourse is accurately defined. So, these tips are for that conversation. 

Here are the Girlology tips for having “the sex talk” with your elementary aged child:

  • Treat it as a very special “big mystery to life” that you will reveal on a special day, maybe on a birthday or a special trip. Talk it up beforehand so there is some excitement in the air.

  • Make it a special discussion, not one that you have when you're trying to do other things. Set aside some time and quiet place that is free from interruptions.
  • Start with eggs, sperm and fertilization. Then, proceed through fetal development and birth. Use pictures to show the sperm, egg, fetus and maybe even of a birth. Animal births are also a great example. 
  • End with intercourse…that's the big mystery. You could ask, “How do you think the sperm and the egg find each other?” When you tell your child how the sperm gets in the woman's body, you will probably get a crinkled nose or an ewww. That's ok. Keep it short and simple, because they will be ready to stop talking about it at that point.
  • If that seems a bit overwhelming, just watch our class, The Science of Reproduction with your child – – it’s exactly how we present it. 
  • Answer all their questions! They come up with some great ones! Keep your sense of humor, and if you don't know an answer, that's ok. Try to find it out and get back to them.
  • Be sure to remind them it’s not their place to share the story with their friends. Other kids deserve to have their own parents involved in how and when they learn about it.
  • Encourage your spouse or child’s other parent to tell your child that he/she knows about the discussion and is also happy to answer questions anytime.
  • Check in again after a few days  to see if there are more questions. They need time to process the information and that often raises new questions.

The whole explanation only takes about 15-20 minutes. And that little bit of time can save you hours in backpedaling out of the mess that other kids can cause with their shared versions of the story. 

Once you make it special and keep it positive, your child will be armed with knowledge from a more accurate source than the kid on the playground. And when a kid starts telling the dirty version, yours will know the truth and start recognizing the inaccuracies and embellishments that come with playground chatter.

So take a deep breath and plan your special “big mystery of life” event.

You’ve got this!

Consider joining Girlology for the sex talk help, and stick around for the puberty and mental health help! We offer grade-by-grade video playlists to support her and you — on topics like this and lots others? Learn More Here.

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