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Sexuality
Authors: Jessica Dunn with Judith A. Myers-Walls, Ph.D., CFLE

Have children in your care asked you where babies come from? Have they wondered about the differences between boys and girls? Do you know how to react when children undress, masturbate, or play “doctor”? Do you feel comfortable talking with parents about their child’s sexual behavior and development?

Many experts believe it is important to start talking about sex with children when they are very young. If adults do not talk about sex, children may be curious but they might think they cannot go to adults for answers. Those children may “experiment” with sex to find answers. They might do things that are inappropriate. Teaching about sexuality before a child begins experimenting helps children get the right information. They learn more about what is OK and not OK to try.

Most people (including the authors of this page) believe that parents should be the first sexuality educators for their children. Childcare providers need to respect parents’ wishes in teaching their children about any sensitive topics, including sexuality. But as a provider, you should be a partner with parents in sexuality education. That is not always easy. As hard as it may be to talk with children about sexuality, it may be harder to approach parents about these issues. But the children will benefit from your openness with their parents. Working together will make it easier to give consistent messages about sexuality to children.

It is helpful to prepare for sexuality education. You should have a policy to share with parents. The policy can explain how you will handle most situations if children ask questions or behave in certain ways. You may want to include some of the topics discussed here. It can be helpful to ask parents if they are comfortable with the policy. Parents and providers should discuss areas in which they disagree. It might be possible to find a new solution. If you and parents cannot agree, you may decide that this setting may not be the right one for this child.

Sources


Go to:
  • Answering tough questions
          
  Talking with your children about sexuality
           • When children’s play involves sexuality
           • Homosexuality
           • HIV/AIDS
           • Tips for providers
           • Red flags – recognizing sexual abuse
           • Books for parents and children

            Sexuality education policy statement



For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at jmyerswa@purdue.edu

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