Masturbation-Should you freak out..?

Let me tell you as a teacher for many years, at one time or another, I’ve looked upon my gorgeous Kindergarten class to see at least a couple of them either with their hands up their dress or down their pants.. masturbating. Yes! and once I realised that a child had forgotten to wear undies to school! (true story)

Were they bored? Maybe! Should I make a big deal about it? Tell their parents? Was it normal? Should I take them aside tell them it’s wrong and inapropriate? Let’s face it, our genitals have so many nerve endings, it feels nice, no wonder that children like to masturbate!

 If you look up any expert’s ‘sexual stages of development’ prior to puberty they will most likely say that masturbation is a perfectly normal stage of of a child’s development.

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Sexual-Behaviors-Young-Children.aspx 

 Research shows that before puberty, masturbation is generally not sexually pleasurable (no orgasm), that it just feels ‘nice’ and it’s normal for any child to want to discover their own bodies.

 Then why and how should we talk about this and why is it such a taboo topic if it’s normal? It is private and you may feel embarrassed and maybe even uncomfortable. We must acknowledge that these feelings are normal and so is masturbation.

Remember that the myths about masturbation that it will cause blindness, stunt your growth, cause infidelity or give you an STD are simply not true. These are based on fear, guilt and shame.

No matter what your beliefs, morals, values or faith might be, there should be no guilt, shame or punishment when you talk about it together! Try to stay calm and not make it such a big deal that the whole world knows about it. Talk about touching private parts in private and just like other conversations, children need to not just have a ‘one off’ talk, rather continual conversations.

Should you be concerned that your child’s masturbation may be a sign of sexual abuse? Excessive masturbation in public or private that interferes with daily life in one way or the other, may be a sign of this. Don’t panic, seek professional help and guidance.

https://kidshelpline.com.au/parents/issues/understanding-child-sexual-abuse 

Our kids need to be open to talking about what is normal. So let’s start talking more about masturbation!

What to tell your child about sex-“hello -the truth” ..and not all in one go, please

It’s important for your children to hear from you over their lifetime that sex can be fantastic, that it’s a good thing, but unfortunately it can be abused.

Your body language, the approachable you and the example that you are, all combine to empower your child.

 We often teach our children the fear of sex predators, STDs, early pregnancy and stranger danger but not celebrate reproduction, bodies, (differences and similarities), feelings, intimacy and relationships.

Sex is not just about the nuts and bolts, puberty, menstruation,

contraception, safer sex, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth, hygiene, and general health care, gender identity, anatomy and reproduction. It is so much more…

Keep remembering to tell your child that they are loved and that you are proud of them, even if they do not agree with you or always make the right decisions. Tell them that you will always be there for them no matter what, that they have the right to feel safe all of the time and that there is nothing so awful that it can't be talked through with someone especially you.

Sex involves so much more than just sexual intercourse. It also includes emotional, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions as well as the physical. Research suggests that all of these are required for a healthy, fulfilling relationship. Discuss the importance of responsibility for choices and decisions as sex requires care and consent. Teach them that they can hurt themselves and others. Relate sex to love, intimacy and respectful relationships.

We need to talk to them so that they respect their own bodies, their identity and feelings. Talk about sex being not just about how you look on the outside it’s more about the inside. Clear messages from you about your values, beliefs and expectations are really important when making sexual decisions. They need to know the consequences of sex such as STDs and pregnancy. With this information, our children are better prepared to resist peer pressure and other influences and to ultimately make healthy wise decisions.

This really is a life-long conversation.

So, when your 11 year old child comes up to you and says what is sex?

You can say in one breath…..

Sex is so much more than you may think, it includes, anatomy and reproductive health. It’s not just a penis in a vagina. It’s about our values, attitudes, feelings, interactions and behaviours and it is emotional, social, cultural, spiritual and physical.

Your child will probably NEVER ask you again but hey you’ve done the sex talk in 10 seconds!!! (NOT)

What the media and popular culture tells us about sex and how you can talk to your kids about it?

Media - Media is the plural form of medium, which (broadly speaking) describes any channel of communication. 

Social media – the online platforms that people use to connect with others share media and form social networks.

Popular culture - the general culture of a society

In the past, the “stories” told to children and young people about how to live and how to act came from parents, schools, churches and community members. Increasingly, media are today’s storytellers. Unfortunately, the messages about sex that we get from the media are often negative, unhealthy or untrue.

 There is no doubt that our kids are growing up surrounded by sexual images and messages. Kids are exposed to sexual imagery in advertisements, on TV, in movies, in books, in video games, songs, mobile phones, radio and on the Internet. Many of these images are played for shock value, so they often contain graphic or violent sex. Our media culture bombards kids with unhealthy sexual messages that can contribute to early and unsafe sexual behaviours and activity, an unhealthy body image and unrealistic expectations. Our media culture assists with ongoing sexism, racism, gender inequality and violence against woman. Even ‘mild’ shows use sexual situations for humour and this sexual humour is often a mainstay of entertainment. Today, young people spend more hours of their day engaging with some form of media—5 to 6 hours a day on average than they do in any other way. This can include the use of phones, internet, social media and television content. This  has contributed to a mental health crisis, evidenced by the increased levels of depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders in young girls and is on the rise for boys.

 Well…is that is enough to make you freak out and put your head in the sand or not?

 How do you help your child see the truth behind the media?

 We need to understand that the media is not always ‘evil’, rather it can be informative and educational in a positive way, as well as being a great resource for fun and learning.

1. Get to know your child’s media environment, including the TV and movies they’re watching, their forms of online communication. Listen to their music, check out the ads in games they play and more. This will provide unlimited opportunities to discuss media literacy issues.

2. Take the opportunity to talk about what you see or hear on the TV or in movies, music, social media and any other form of media. I know that this might sound rather strange but I will be forever grateful for reality TV. It has started so many conversations with my children around the topic of sexuality, consent and relationships from ‘Married at First Sight’ to ‘The Bachelor’, tampon adds, erectile dysfunction ads and the endless songs about sex that we hear on the radio.

Identify opportunities to explore media literacy with your children in everyday, unexpected ways. (Frequently point out images and messages in the media to your child and remind them that this is a not a standard they or anyone else should hold themselves to.) Listen to their music and radio. When talking with your children, focus on the underlying messages. Share your feelings and values, and avoid blanket criticism of your children’s opinions or favourite media. Learning to think critically about media will help your child when they are exposed to inappropriate content, and they will have the knowledge that media isn’t an accurate representation of real life.

3. Set up parental devices and filters and have boundaries and time limits. Explain to your child why you are doing this.

4. Put devices in public areas not in bedrooms

5. Know your children’s passwords.

6. Try not to talk about your own body constantly and compare it to social media.

So ready set lets go!

“How are babies made?” It’s good to have a laugh sometimes…

Why? because sometimes talking about sex can happen in funny situations so it’s important to laugh. So here are a few funny stories that I have heard about how parents have told their children about how babies are made and vice versa…. and we can all have a laugh at the same time regardless of how we feel.

 A parent to child conversation about how are babies made?

1. In the shopping queue at the checkout at Kmart..surrounded by many people

Child to parent: How are babies made?

Parent to child: I bought you, at Kmart because you were on special.

2. At a local soccer game where my friend’s six year old son asked a large lady how a baby got into her tummy, (she was not pregnant!). She was gorgeous and responded by saying thank you for the compliment, but it was fat and not a baby! She told the boy to ask his mum and guess what, that’s what he did!

Child to parent: How are babies made? (in car on way home from soccer)

Parent to child: I found you on the soccer pitch! (Oh dear!!)

3. At a restaurant with a friend who is pregnant and once again surrounded by many people.

Child to parent: How did a baby get into your stomach?

Parent to child: You were on the menu.

4. Child to parent: How are babies made?

Parent to IVF child: You were mixed in a glass with sperm from dad and an egg from mum and I swallowed you.

A child’s view about how are babies made?

1. My mum swallowed a watermelon seed and it grew into a baby and then she vommited me out.

2. At a big family gathering where my sister-in-law bought her dog, my 10 year old niece explains to everyone when she sees the dogs humping that the dog’s penis will go into the vagina and that’s how a baby dog is made. Well hello how are you?

3. My friend’s daughter age 5, announced to me that she knew how her mum had given birth to her recent sibling …she said he grew inside my mum’s belly until he just fell out one day and the doctor caught him.

4. At one of my ‘Amazing Me’ programs one of the children came up to me afterwards looking rather shocked. He said that his parents told him that he was very special. One day they were cooking and put two baby making ingredients in a bowl and mixed them around and he was made. He was a gorgeous IVF baby after all.

 What have you told your child? You might be surprised as to how these funny conversations may open up opportunities to talk about lots of other difficult topics. These conversations will ultimately strenghten your relationship with your children no matter how old they are. Let’s face it, ultimately isn’t this what we want?

On the subject of girls, let's talk about the V

Most children and their parents at my talks often mistake that the vulva is called the vagina…Does it matter? Yes it does..Why? because they are different parts of your body. (It’s like calling your knee your foot. It’s not the correct name.)

So I challenge you say it now, 3 times if you can, as loud as you can … Vulva, Vulva, Vulva.

YOU DID IT!

Flappa jackas, wee wee, muffin, camel toe, honey pot or vajayjay. Even though we don’t often talk about it, the word ‘vulva’ can be difficult for us to say.

The often funny list goes on…. but the real name is…..the

vul·va - meaning

noun

the female external genitals.

The vulva comes from a latin-deritative. It means ‘covering’ and that makes sense because that’s what you can see on the outside of a female’s genitals right?

The vulva includes the opening of the vagina (sometimes called the vestibule), the labia majora (outer lips), the labia minora (inner lips), and the clitoris. Around the opening of the vagina, there are 2 sets of skin folds.

 What our children need to know about the vulva. (boys too)

1.     The vulva is not the vagina. Many people mistake the vulva for the vagina.

The vagina is the muscular tube or birth canal leading from the external genitals to the cervix of the uterus in women and most female mammals. In short the vulva is what you see on the outside of the female genitalia and the vagina is the inside.

2.     Most people would know that the penis comes in all different shapes sizes and colours (because you can see it) ..but the vulva? It does too. There is a great deal of variation in the appearance of the vulva and the vulva can change throughout a female’s life.

3.   In the past, girls thought that vulvas looked basically the same, with the outer labia about the same size and the inner labia lips symmetrical. This is not nessarily the case. Not only can they look different but the colour can be dark or light just like your skin colour.

 4. Pubic hair (if you have it) is very different too and changes over time. It’s usually darker than the hair on your head and courser, thicker and curlier. (but because of porn, (there is no hair) many people think that having no hair is ideal, but this is not necessarily true)

5. Pornography is not showing the real vulva and photographs are often airbrushed and not real.

 Why do I think that  calling a vulva a vagina is important?? Because our society often popularizes the idea that the labia should be perfectly symmetrical, and the inner lips and folds of skin should not be visible when in many cases they are. Unrealistic ideas lead to anxiety and shame in woman of all ages but particularly young girls is very concerning. A number of Australian girls, as young as 11, are seeking cosmetic surgery on their genitals. (see below article)

https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/why-are-young-girls-asking-for-vaginal-cosmetic-surgery

 So let’s educate our children about our vulvas because really ?

..yours is normal no matter what it looks like.

Girls Girls Girls

 

It’s International Women’s Day 2019 and the UN theme is ‘Think Equal, Build smart, Innovate for Change’ …isn’t that amazing! All genders are equal but in many societies woman are still discriminated against, with sex education not even considered. Many people believe that woman’s education is a key factor to change and ongoing health, success and flourishing.

As a family we have a charity in Northern India and this is definitely the case there. Each year Project Help India holds a woman’s conference which aims to empower and educate woman to have strength value and purpose, value themselves and change their communities. Many woman who we educate have no idea about the whole topic of sex education and if they did !! WOW! Not only would their health change but their families and wider communities would change for the better too.

For starters once they get their periods they would know why, how and what to do. This could help them go to school as many drop out when they get their periods. They would know that menopause is normal and what happens when they go through it. Contraception, hygiene, consent, healthy relationships, body safety and boundary education would certainly change their lives. Education in woman’s health has changed over the years. Historically life was more difficult, woman became wives and mothers a lot earlier, as well as contracting diseases with earlier mortality rates. Many woman in the past were not concerned about old age because they did not reach it.

So, what’s my point….wherever you live, whoever you are, let’s change the world by educating our girls when it comes to sex education!!! The possibilities are endless. Today we honour and celebrate all the amazing woman around the world!

 

 

 

 

How did you find out about puberty and sex? Do you want to be the same or different?

I know it’s March, but it has taken me a bit of time to get into the full swing of 2019.

How did you find out about puberty and sex ….and everything else in between, (because it is far greater than just these two conversations)? Do you want your conversations to be the same in 2019, or will it be like the way you might have found out as a kid?

 My mum and dad never had ‘the talk’ with me. I came home from school one day and there was the book sitting on my bed. I still have that exact copy, ‘Where Did I Come From?’ by Peter Mayle. It used to be one of the only books around in those days and to this day it is still very funny, even though it only talks about babies being conceived in one way.

The book ‘What’s Happening to Me?’ is the follow-up and still I would recommend it even though there are now so many other books around. As a pre-teen I read this book and got the shock of my life!  That was it! done and dusted...no questions asked, and no conversations with mum and dad necessary. Even though my parents were quite progressive (they both worked full time and believed in equality back in the day) it must have been difficult for them to have these conversations, as it is today.

 At the age of 10 I got my periods. Once again I got the shock of my life because I wasn’t ready for this. I felt lonely as I don’t think anyone else had them. I had never talked about it, I was totally embarrassed, and I had no one to talk to. I stole pads out of my mum’s drawer until she found out. I breaks my heart to write this, because it did not need to be this way.

In our fast-paced and ever changing world, I believe we not only have a choice to talk to our kids about this, but a responsibility, regardless of our values and beleifs or how we feel, or what our past experiences may have been. We owe it to our daughters, and our sons too, to give them all knowledge and every opportunity to be prepared for all that lies ahead for them.

So how did you find out about puberty and sex? It can be the same for your kids, or it can be very different. It’s up to you?

 

Door openers and door slammers. Practical tips that open up and continue conversations versus stopping those conversations in their tracks. (It’s not always as hard as you think)

As Christmas and the holidays are fast approaching, as we spend time together, it’s a time that we have opportunities to open or close conversations. I am all for strengthening relationships but how can you respond to a question or start or continue a conversation no matter what it might be about? There are two ways and I call them door openers and door slammers.

Door Openers… I’ve called these ‘open door conversations’. These are ideas that encourage and continue conversations with your children.

That’s a good question! What do you think about that? I want to understand how you feel. Tell me what that means to you. I’m glad you shared that with me. It sounds like what you’re saying is. Tell me more about that. How do you feel? What do you think? It might feel weird telling me but do any of your friends…. Wow! I am proud of you. That's great that you feel that way. Thank you for talking with me about that. You can ask me anything. I don’t know the answer but I will find out. Do you know what e.g. pornography means? I need to have a conversation with you about…e.g.  puberty and I’ll tell you lots of things that happened to me and how I felt.

Then there are the Door Slammers. These are conversation stoppers that discourage your child from talking with you. Sometimes door slammers stop your child from EVER asking you again.

If anyone goes near you I’ll be so angry. You’re too young for that! Where did you hear that?  If you say that word again, I’ll…That’s none of your business! I don’t care what your friends are doing. That’s just for girls/boys. We’ll talk about that when you need to know. That’s disgusting! That’s a weird thing to say. I’m disappointed in you. You look like a prostitute wearing that. Sex is bad. End of conversation! I’m really angry with you for saying that.

So what are your door openers? You may come up with some of your own. It takes practice, but you might be surprised by how much your children want to talk to you after a door opener conversation and how much they don’t when you slam the door of the conversation closed.

So let’s keep opening the doors!