5 Ways To Educate Your Toddler About Sexual Health As An African Parent



Sexual health is an important topic that most parents are wary of discussing with their toddlers. It is paramount to know that sexuality does not just center around sex. It trickles into your child's identity, self-awareness of their body changes and responses, and expression of feelings and affections.



Why do you need to discuss sexual health with your toddler as a Nigerian parent?


The following would help you discover the need to have a sexual health conversation with your toddler:


  • Early conversations about sex, which are transparent and honest, can help your child understand that sex and sexuality are healthy parts of life. It helps them make informed decisions.


  • It helps to foster a bond between your toddler and you. Your toddler will, over time, develop into communicating everything with you and involving you through their growth process. They will come to you when they notice specific changes or abnormalities in their body.


  • It makes them self-aware of their body parts and builds a strong wall of self-esteem, confidence and extolled body image around them.


  • It prepares them for the maturity that will be experienced much later. They learn about the body changes and responses and why it is so. This helps to instill a strong sense of safety as they grow older.



What is the appropriate age to discuss sexual health as a Nigerian parent?


It is never too early to speak with your toddler about sex. There is no fixed age to discuss it, although understanding may vary from child to child.


There are children whose sense of keenness is on the high side. They observe and digest everything and, more often than not, ask questions. 


However, it is ideal that you initiate the conversation once your child is within comprehension age, especially before puberty. Starting early to have open and honest conversations with your child can ease communication later. 


The downside to deferring to a later age because you think they are too small, is that they will learn it elsewhere, and chances are that they will learn wrongly. 



5 ways to help you educate your toddler about sexual health


  • Be age-conscious: Keep in mind that there are different levels of understanding attainable for their age. Use languages that are age-appropriate and can be easily understood. Explain at a level they can understand and make sure they are facts.


  • Be honest and open: Children are curiosity-driven. Be honest and open when responding to their questions, and try to strike a balance with their age as regards conversations bordering on sexual health. You might have to tweak the language to tailor to their age and maturity level but do not offer shady responses. Also, do not overstretch the negatives. Concentrate on the positive side, too. Honesty provides them with the correct information.


  • Use correct terminology: As much as you are trying to come down to their level of understanding, it is important to teach and mention the proper names for each body part when engaging your toddler in talks about their sexual health. It makes them not see words like “penis,” “vagina,” “breasts” as disapproving or embarrassing. Do not lie, nor use gibberish or nonexistent words like “pee hole” or “bum.” 


  • Create a comfortable environment: When discussing sexual health with your toddler, it is essential to ensure a comfortable atmosphere while being receptive to their feelings and thoughts. Please do not go off on them for wanting to know when they use obscene words or misbehave. Try to draw them close and pay adequate attention patiently while they speak. This will create a safe space for them to ask questions and feel comfortable with any information you provide afterward.


  • Brace up for questions and give appropriate responses to them: As your toddler develops, their scope of knowledge becomes highly sensitive. Children ask tough questions, and there is no limit to what they ask. Expect the questions and always find each question as an opportunity to tutor them correctly. Do not ignore the questions or give vague responses. Ensure to provide suitable and accurate information. 


As a Nigerian parent, it is crucial to have open and honest discussions with your toddler about sexual health as frequently as you can. It is not a one-off conversation.


Provide them with accurate information about their body and sexuality in a way that makes it fascinating while replacing any misinformation with facts. 


The media is filled with highly misleading content. Endeavour to start these conversations before your toddler gets exposed to them and try to experiment in your absence.



Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)


How do I tell my toddler where babies come from?

This can be a sensitive topic. However, be honest, explain the process in the most simplified terms, and teach it like you would do in a classroom, although in a more cordial way.  Include non-complex diagrams from a book or gestures to enable a free flow of information.


How do I explain reproduction to my toddler?

Start by using terms that are not ambiguous. Understand that they may not have an absolute overview of it. Therefore, give the basic explanation suitable for them and be detailed as they advance in age.


Is it safe to teach my toddler about their reproductive parts?

Yes, it is absolutely safe to teach them all they need to know about their reproductive parts and in clear terms. Make them understand that it is very okay and healthy to use the terms appropriately without feeling ashamed.

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