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Explaining Sex to 8 Year Old

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: I told my eight-year-old the facts of life today. I've always been a fan of not rushing kids, since I think the innocence of childhood is a gift we should cherish. Accordingly, I'm worried that I just "turned a corner" -- made a change in him forever, and told him stuff that he didn't need to know. He seemed interested, and, once I was done talking, ran off and did his kid things again. Did I jump the gun?

A: It sounds like you did a good job explaining the basics to your son. Sex education is handled best when a child begins to ask questions and express interest, which is exactly what your son did.

The key is to not overwhelm the child with technical information and to leave the door open for future questions. We should always answer our children's questions, using the correct terminology. They will absorb what they are ready to hear. Be ready to answer further questions as they come up. You don't have to focus on only the "big" talks -- you can always bring the subject up yourself as the situation presents itself, such as when someone you know is pregnant or the topic comes up on TV.

You should feel good that you handled this situation well and that you gave your son the information you wish you had received as a child. The fact that your son ran off to do "kid things" after your talk should tell you that he got the information he needed and that he felt comfortable with you in getting it.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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