How to Answer Kids’ Questions about Sex

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“Kids at school were talking about where babies come from today on the bus.”

When we send our kids out into the world, we start to lose control of what topics our kids discuss with others. A HeyKiddo parent told us that when their child came home and casually mentioned talking about sex while she was preparing an after-school snack, she didn’t know what to say. “I definitely didn’t want to talk about sex with my 8 year old! And definitely not blindsided in the middle of the afternoon with it!”

Conversations about sex are something many parents dread. Many parents will simply delay the inevitable “birds and the bees” conversation by informing their children that babies are dropped off to loving parents by their local stork. 

Unfortunately, as fun as the stork folk tale can be, this approach is not effective for broaching the topic of sex education with your child. A direct, open, and transparent approach to sex education is always best. 

Given how prevalent sex is in modern media, especially TV shows, movies, and music, your child may start asking you sex-related questions sooner rather than later. 

Feeling nervous about “the talk”? Well, fortunately for you, we have some helpful tips for having effective conversations with your children about sex:

  1. Don’t ignore the topic. When your child first asks you about sex-related topics, don’t ignore or put off the conversation. First, thank them for choosing to come to you for the discussion. Then, proceed with answering their questions clearly and in a manner appropriate for their age, using facts.
  2. Use proper anatomical terms. When discussing sexual organs, use the proper anatomical terms, such as “penis” and “vulva.” Using slang or “nice” terms for sexual organs will only serve to further confuse your child. Kids may hear slang terms and feel more comfortable using them at first–that’s okay. Keep modeling using the anatomical terms and allow your child to use the words that feel right to them. An imperfect conversation is better than none at all!
  3. Break down sex topics into smaller conversations. Sex is a very broad and complicated topic. There’s no need to fit everything into one conversation! Break down different components of sex (e.g., sexual organs, safe sex practices, pornography) into small, bite-sized conversations that can be easily understood by your child. 
  4. Be prepared for questions! Your child will likely have questions regarding sex-related topics. That’s okay and even a good sign of healthy development! Be prepared to answer some basic questions about sex. If you don’t know the answer to a question, do a little bit of research with your child in-the-moment to find an accurate answer. Here are some common questions your child may ask you:
    1. Where do babies come from?
    2. How old do you have to be to have sex?
    3. Do you ever have sex?
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