Ask Dr. Gigi

Mighty Blog

Advice for age-appropriate conversations about sex

Dr. Gigi Chawla on WCCO
Gigi Chawla, MD (right), joins “WCCO Mid-Morning” hosts Kylie Bearse and Jason DeRusha to share advice on how parents can have age-appropriate conversations with their kids about sex.

Parents can struggle with one simple, five-word question: “Where do babies come from?” Gigi Chawla, MD, senior medical director of primary care for Children’s Minnesota, joins WCCO Mid-Morning hosts Kylie Bearse and Jason DeRusha to share how parents can provide their kids with age-appropriate information about sex.

What age do you need to start talking?

Any age that you can imagine probably is too old. Start the conversation earlier, even at ages 3 or 4. By that time, body parts should be identified by their real names.

As kids get older, they’ll lead you with their questions. Take their lead and ask your own questions. Questions like, “What do you mean?” “What have you heard?” “What do you know about the topic?” are great questions to ask back. Make sure you’re answering the question in an age-appropriate way, in the way they’re asking it. “Babies come from the hospital” is an appropriate response for kids of a certain age.

‘Talks,’ not ‘talk’

There shouldn’t be just one talk. Break it into several conversations so it’s ongoing throughout a child’s development. Puberty can begin as early as age 8, so try to have some discussion earlier, around ages 6 or 7.

Other sources

Kids often learn about sexual health as fifth-graders in school. Get out in front of it to better prepare your child. It’s possible that kids will hear things on TV or the school bus, too, so ask questions about what they know.

You have a perfect opportunity to make sure that you’re using your own ethics and values and overlaying that into how you want the conversation to go.

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