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Sex Education for Young Children Part Two

I have been doing more research on this since my previous post. My kids are just one week older now, so they are still too young, but as this is a topic which I am totally not confident in, I need more preparation.

The surprising thing was, when I looked through the three books on the human body which we already have, I could not find pictures of the genitals! And I thought these were ‘serious, informative’ type of books… Duh…

 

I bought a DVD which I happened to see at Popular – The Joy of Life Vol 1.

It includes ten episodes each answering a common question about procreation. The facts are presented in an open and frank manner, and even I learnt a few things too! It was very informative, and perhaps a bit information-overload, but it was very manageable as each episode was only about five minutes.

(Anyway, a bit of overload is better than being skimpy on information. After all, it is meant to be educational!)

It is recommended for ages 5 and above, so I won’t be letting my boys watch it again soon… until they start asking questions!

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Sex Education for Young Children

This is a topic which I have not explored with my kids yet. I am reading up on it so that I will be prepared when the time to talk about this with them comes. I have read two chapters from different books and this post will be a summary.

Between Parent and Child

I did a previous post on a brief summary of the other chapters. Here I will be doing a more detailed summary of the chapter ‘Sex and Human Values’, focusing on the sections relevant to pre-schoolers.

Sex education has two parts: information and values. While children can be taught information in school, it is best to teach the values at home. Children learn these values by observing their parents’’ interactions with each other, when they kiss or hug or exhibit other affectionate behaviour.

Information-wise, we should take caution against giving too much too soon. When children ask sex questions, they should be answered frankly and briefly.

The right age to inform a child about sexual matters is when the child asks questions. When he asks about his genitals, we tell him the right name. Other questions might follow in this order: where a baby comes from (mother’s body), how a baby is conceived (father’s sperm joins mother’s egg), how does it get born (through mother’s vagina), with more detailed questions as the child gets older.

E.g. ‘How does the father’s sperm get into the mother’s egg?’ (from the father’s penis into the mother’s vagina), ‘when do you and Daddy make babies?’ (we choose a time when we are comfortable and alone).

Before the child starts to ask questions, from early childhood on, children should learn the names and functions of their organs and the anatomical differences between the sexes.

OK, since Meimei is often naked in the presence of the two boys, I am sure they have noticed some differences. Hmm, they haven’t asked why Meimei is different though. Anyway, I won’t be using Meimei as my model, that’s for sure. What they see, they see – they are siblings after all, no need to be shy for now. Otherwise I won’t be bringing their attention to her specifically. Shall use books to teach them about the anatomical differences and functions. Stay tuned for updates!

Masturbation is a natural part of a child’s sexual experimentation. It is important not to overreact or shame the child, just to remind the child that ‘that kind of touching is a private act’.

I had come across this point previously. I am glad I did not overreact when it happened to my kids, but it was difficult to prevent other well-meaning adults from telling the boys to stop touching themselves.

Children may engage in mutual exploration especially with their friends of the opposite gender, for instance through games like playing doctor or house, or negotiate peeping games. It is normal, but parents do have to set a positive limit on such activities. We can do this by calmly telling the children to get dressed and find something else to play with. In this way, we limit sexual experimentation without harming the child’s sexual development.

It does sound very logical, but I’m guessing in our Asian context, this might not be a situation that many of us will encounter with our children. Perhaps because we adults are less open about our bodies and sex, children might also repress their wish to explore? Or maybe it will happen. Hmm.

Becoming the Parent You Want To Be – Learning About Bodies

This book elaborates on some of the points from the first book, and is a good source as well. It gives useful guidelines for talking to kids about sex in general:

  • Give children language for their body parts
  • Talk about genitals just like you’d talk about any other part of the body.
  • Ask the question back.
  • Pace your answers to your child’s developmental level.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Expect it to come up again.

Actually, come to think of it, Kor Kor has seen me pregnant twice, and Didi once. But probably because they were too young, they didn’t ask many questions about it. Wasted opportunities!

 

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It’s OK NOT to Share… And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids

I was just browsing and came across this book on Amazon (you know, ‘Customers who bought this also bought…’ But I usually buy my books from Book Depository). The title looked really interesting, so did the abstract, and the reviews were positive. No regrets reading this!

Parenting can be such an overwhelming job that it’s easy to lose track of where you stand on some of the more controversial subjects at the playground. In this inspiring and enlightening book, Heather Shumaker describes her quest to nail down “the rules” to raising smart, sensitive, and self-sufficient kids. Drawing on the work of more than a hundred child psychologists, educators and other experts, as well as her own experiences as the mother of two small children, Shumaker gets to the heart of the matter on a host of important questions.  (from the back cover)

The Rules

  1. Don’t steal play
  2. It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property
  3. Kids need conflict
  4. All feelings are OK. All behaviour isn’t
  5. Let kids hit and kick
  6. “I hate you” is nothing personal
  7. Take dictation from your tot
  8. Go ahead: let him hate the baby!
  9. It’s OK not to share
  10. Let her hog that toy all day
  11. We’re not all friends here
  12. You can’t play = A-OK
  13. Hang up a “No Girls” sign
  14. Take rejection in stride
  15. Ban chairs – not tag
  16. Give kids power
  17. Only punch friends
  18. Bombs, guns and bad guys allowed
  19. Boys can wear tutus
  20. Pictures don’t have to be pretty
  21. Paint off the paper
  22. Stop saying “Good job!”
  23. Kids don’t have to say “sorry”
  24. Let your kid swear
  25. Love your kid’s lies
  26. Sex ed starts in preschool
  27. Be buddies with dead birds
  28. Make some enemies at the playground
  29. Goof up

Intrigued? I hope so : )

I shall share more on No. 9 here since it’s the title and also because it made a lot of sense to me when I read it. Having two children for the past two and a half years (and three children for the past seven months), I had told the boys to SHARE soooooo many times. I had got upset when they refused to share, when they refused to give up the toy to the brother even though they had played with it for a long time.

The author advocates that the one who had the toy first should get to keep the toy until he is ready to give it up. Instead of ‘teaching’ the first boy to ‘share’, we should teach the second one to wait. Waiting isn’t easy, so the adult should comfort and sympathize with the waiting child, perhaps by giving a hug, and telling him ‘I will hold you while you wait.’ The first child learns assertiveness, and the second child learns delayed gratification.

True story:

Kor Kor was playing with a toy. Didi came over and snatched it from him. Kor Kor tried to retrieve the toy. Didi refused to let go. Both boys were crying and screaming.

Me: Give the toy back to Kor Kor now and ask for the toy.

Didi: NO!!

I would gently (haha) take his hands and return the toy to Kor Kor.

Me: Say ‘Kor Kor, can I have the toy please?’

Didi (still sobbing and whining) reluctantly repeated the words after me after I told him numerous times.

In the past, this was where I got stuck. Didi had already asked Kor Kor nicely, but usually Kor Kor still refused to give up the toy, and he did have the toy first, so what should I do? Now:

Me: Didi, tell Kor Kor ‘When you have finished playing with the toy, please give it to me.’

Didi: Kor Kor, when you have finished playing with the toy, please give it to me.

Then I held Didi in my lap and we waited together. (Nope, no black face or threatening glare from me.)

Nine out of ten times, Kor Kor handed over the toy within one minute! Happily, willingly, with a smile on his face! (The other one time, he might play with the toy a while longer.. or urmm, Didi forgot about the toy and moved on to something else.)

Everybody happy!

Then, of course, within the next minute, DIdi abandoned the toy -.-“

This has also happened with the roles reversed.

Though I have to take a active role in this, and also have to spend some time sitting with the one who’s waiting, it’s no more time than having to referee two fighting boys anyway. The difference is the amount of yelling and crying and punishment and forcing. I would rather spend my time being a nice parent! I have only been doing this for a couple of weeks, hopefully the boys will be able to internalise this soon!

The Other Rules

I have been practicing some of the rules before reading this book, though perhaps not perfectly – Rule 1 (Don’t steal play), Rule 2 (It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property), Rule 20 (Pictures don’t have to be pretty), Rule 21 (Paint off the paper), Rule 22 (Stop saying “Good job!” and Rule 23 (Kids don’t have to say “Sorry”). Rule 10 (Let her hog that toy all day!) is an extension of Rule 9.

I have also been inspired to start doing a few additional things since reading the book.

Rule 11: I have stopped referring to all other children as ‘your friends’.

Rule 15: I cleared an area in the house (by moving the things into the children’s bedrooms) so that the kids could have more space for crazy dashing about.

Rule 18: Yep, I am going to give them guns. Toys, of course.

Rule 26: I have been sourcing for suitable sex ed books to start off with the boys. The author recommended “Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years” which I am reading now.

Rule 27: Keeping a lookout for children books on death (gonna take it slow and easy cos it’s a heavy topic and I don’t want to scare the boys. But they have to face this sooner or later, so there’s no point avoiding it. Better to introduce them to it before it happens so that I have a chance to explain and assure.)

I like the book because the rules seem sound to me, the author explains why, and she gives advice on how to implement the rules. Now that I have finished this review and that the due date is coming soon, I feel quite sad about returning the book to the library!

We are learning to share better : )

We are learning to share better : )