Mời các bạn tham khảo thêm bài viết về GDGT cho bé 6-8 tuổi …
What to expect at this age
During the early grade-school years, children's natural interest in their own bodies starts to give way — at least some of the time — to an increasingly compelling interest in their social world. They're busy trying to make and keep friends and develop their social and physical skills on the playground and ball field. Their interest in sex at this age can vary widely. In many grade-schoolers it surfaces only briefly, now and then — just one of many other things they're curious about. Other children are more consistently curious about sex and demand more detail than before.
Your grade-schooler is also exposed to lots of opinions, ideas, and misconceptions that come from other children. He's likely to believe the "facts" he hears from his friends, no matter how outrageous they are. And if your 8-year-old has some 10-year-old buddies, he may be asking you questions you didn't think you'd have to handle so soon. When he hears your answers, he might take them in stride or he might react with a loud "Yuck!" This is a clear — and healthy — sign that he's just not ready to learn more details about sex yet. Most children under the age of 8 can't, and don't need to, grasp the actual mechanics of sex, and discussions of erections, periods, labor, and other aspects of sexuality may frighten them.
How to talk about it
Be calm and relaxed. It's not easy to keep from cringing when your child asks you what a "boner" is. Just do your best to speak calmly, so you can respect your child's natural curiosity without being judgmental. Each time you successfully tackle a sensitive topic, the anxiety level (for both of you) goes down. If you avoid these talks, your child won't learn your values about sex, but will develop his own from what he gleans from friends and the media.
Many adults feel awkward talking about sex with their child because they don't have much practice doing it and because they're afraid of telling too much once a discussion gets going . The best strategy is to try to answer questions calmly and succinctly, however unusual or embarrassing it seems. If talking about sex is difficult for you, try rehearsing your answers in advance, either alone or with your spouse or partner. Take advantage of questions that come up when you're both at ease — in the family room, on a walk, or during those quiet moments when you're tucking him into bed. The car is also a great place to talk, since having to keep your eyes on the road allows you to avoid eye contact, which may help you stay more relaxed.
"The important thing is for a parent to explain difficult topics without seeming anxious," says Jerome Kagan, professor of psychology at Harvard University. "The child is picking up the melody line, not the words."
Really listen. Resist the temptation to jump in with speeches the minute your child asks a question about sex. Parents have been known to embark on a long explanation of conception and birth only to hear their 6-year-old interrupt, "No, I mean Timmy said he's from California; where did I come from?" To make sure that you understand his question,you might try responding to your child's question with another question. "How do babies grow — do you mean, how do a mom and dad start a baby growing? Or how does the baby get food when he's growing inside the mother?"
Keep it simple. Answers to questions about conception and birth can be a bit more detailed for grade-schoolers, but you probably don't need to go into detail about sexual intercourse yet. And while you don't want to sound like a doctor, you should use appropriate language ("penis" and "vagina," not "wee-wee" or "pee-pee"). It will lessen the sense that sexual topics are off-limits and embarrassing. "How are babies made? The dad has seeds, called sperm, which are made in the testes, in that special pouch of skin hanging behind his penis. Millions of tiny sperm are made there all the time. They get mixed with a white liquid called semen. The mom's eggs grow inside her body, in her ovaries. Every month the mom's ovaries make an egg. When we made you, semen from Daddy's penis carried the sperm into my womb. Just one sperm joined up with the egg, and that was the start of a new baby — you!" Your child may or may not be satisfied with that answer. Keep answering his questions as long as he shows interest, but don't overload him with information if his next comment is, "Okay. What's for dinner?"
Encourage his interest. No matter what your child's question, try not to snap, "Where did you get that idea? We don't talk about things like that," and don't try to steer the conversation elsewhere. Either way, your grade-schooler will get the message that his perfectly normal questions are taboo, and that he's bad for even thinking of them. "You want to be an 'ask-able' parent," says Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and coauthor of Ten Talks Parents Must Have With Their Children About Sex and Character. "Your kid should know you love this kind of conversation. He's constantly forming pictures in his mind of what reality is — and they're not always accurate. You want to be there to give him the truth and assuage any worries." So answer his questions and praise him for asking: "What a good question! Ask me some more any time you want to." If you don't know the answer, tell him honestly, "I'm not sure, but let's go look it up together." Your willingness to talk honestly with your child is an ongoing gift he'll need as he steers his way through the confusions of childhood, adolescence, and beyond.
Use everyday opportunities. You don't have to wait for your child to ask all the questions. You've probably already been discussing sexuality for years, simply by talking about the mommy goat nursing her baby at the zoo or examining the broken bird's egg he found on the sidewalk. Keep using those moments, as well as scenes of family life in movies or on TV, to talk about relationships and sexuality. Books also provide perfect opportunities for talking about sex and birth. "For grade-schoolers I highly recommend What's the Big Secret? by Laurie Krasny-Brown and Marc Brown, the creator of the Arthur books," says Pearl Simmons, an education specialist who teaches parenting classes at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Teach privacy. Your grade-schooler understands the occasional need for "private time," and he should know that he needs to knock before coming in when your door is closed. Be sure to follow the same rule yourself when your child has shut his door. It's also a good idea to continue to emphasize to your grade-schooler that his private parts are private. It's not unusual — and not really erotic — for 6-year-olds to experiment by "playing doctor," so there's no need to scold your young grade-schooler if you catch him doing this. But he can learn that no one else should touch him there but Mom, Dad, or the doctor, and that he should say "no" to anyone who tries to touch his private parts against his wishes. "This is an important issue, and you should teach it proactively," says Simmons.
What kids ask … What parents answer
"What's sex?" A 6-, 7-, or 8-year-old is most apt to ask this question if something he's seen or heard — usually from an older child or on TV — introduces the idea. Don't shy away from it, but remember that children this age are probably still too young for details about the mechanics of sex. However, even 6-year-olds can learn that there's an emotional element to sex. You can tell him, "The word 'sex' is sometimes used to mean whether someone is a boy or a girl, like when we ask, 'What sex is the baby?' Sex is also one of the ways two grown-ups can show that they love each other very much, by touching each other's body during private time together. Or say, it's short for 'having sex' or, it is a way to say 'making love.' If he asks for more detail, you might say, "Grown-ups use sex to make each other feel happy and wonderful. In sexual intercourse, a man's penis gets stiff and he puts it inside a woman's vagina. It feels good for both of them. If they want, a man and woman can have sex to start a baby." Related questions include, "Why do people have sex? What's making love? Is sex what you do in bed? Does it hurt? Ugh — will I have to have sex?"
"Can I make a baby?" Here you can begin to explain the differences between children's and adults' bodies, as well as the differences in their emotional maturity levels. "No, making babies is something only grown-ups can do. Your body isn't ready yet, but it will be when you're older. It also takes a lot of growing up on the inside to be ready to care for a baby, and so no one should make a baby until he or she is a mature adult." Similar questions include, "How come teenagers can have babies?" and "Why can't dads have babies?"
"How does the baby get out?" Children are fascinated with pregnancy and birth, and they may envision anything from Mom vomiting up the baby to Dad unzipping Mom's belly and letting the baby walk out. Grade-schoolers can be told, "When the baby is ready to be born, the bottom of the womb — which is called the cervix — slowly stretches open. Strong muscles in the womb push the baby down the vagina and out from between the mom's legs. This takes a few hours." Other questions about pregnancy and delivery include, "Does it hurt to have the baby? How does the baby get food when he's inside of you? What does he look like now?"
"What's masturbation?" Odds are, your grade-schooler has already engaged in masturbation, but at this point he may be hearing the word (or euphemisms for it) at school and starting to wonder more about what it means. Because masturbation is a loaded topic for many adults, your child may also be wondering whether it's shameful or unnatural. You can tell him, "Masturbation means touching your private parts — the penis for boys, the clitoris for girls. It doesn't do you any harm to masturbate; in fact, it's a normal thing to do. But because it involves your private parts, it's something people do in private only." Your child may also ask, "Is it okay to masturbate? What does 'playing with yourself' mean? Is it dirty to touch myself down there?"
"What's puberty?" When your grade-schooler starts to think about puberty, he's thinking about growing up. Take his questions seriously, but pace your answers, deciding question by question how much information he's really ready for. You can tell him, "Puberty is the time when your body starts to change from a child's body to a grown-up body. People go through puberty at different ages — some start as early as age 9 or 10, others not until 15 or 16, but most at around age 13. We can't predict exactly when you'll start, but it will be at the right time for your own body." This answer may be just enough for a 6- to 8-year-old, who could be overwhelmed by details of pubic hair growth and monthly periods.
On the other hand, a mature 8-year-old, particularly one who has an older sibling, may be ready for more information. "During puberty, girls grow breasts and begin having their monthly periods — a few days of bleeding from their vagina — which shows that their bodies are getting ready to be able to have babies. Boys start to get wider shoulders, more muscles, facial hair, deeper voices, and they start making sperm in their testes — so they can make babies someday, too. Girls and boys both start growing more hair on their bodies and their private parts." Related questions include, "When will I start puberty? Am I going to be different all of a sudden? Am I going to have to shave? What do you mean that David's voice is changing? Am I growing fast enough?"
"What's a period?" Because young children especially may link bleeding with pain, if they've heard about girls' monthly periods, they need to be reassured that this is a normal and positive part of growing up. Most girls will want specific information, but boys ask about periods, too. Tell your grade-schooler, "A period and menstruation are the same thing — the time every month that a girl's body shows it's able to have a baby. Girls start having their periods when they go through puberty — and it could be anywhere from about age 10 to 15, though some start even earlier or even later. During her period, a girl bleeds through her vagina for a few days every month. Most girls wear a sanitary napkin, then, inside their underpants; later, many use tampons, which are like skinny napkins that fit inside the vagina." Related questions include, "When am I going to get my period? Does it hurt? Can I have a baby then?"
"When am I going to get breasts?" Breasts are a big source of pride, envy, concern, and embarrassment to girls — and many boys tease about them. Let your grade-schooler know that breast size does not determine whether a person is pretty, sexy, or popular. "Your breasts will start to develop when you start going through puberty," you can tell your grade-schooler. "They might be one of the first signs that you're growing up, or other signs — like getting your period — could come first." Grade-school girls may also ask, "How big are my breasts going to be? Can I get a bra? If I don't wear a bra when my breasts are growing, will they sag?"
"What's a wet dream?" Boys are as concerned about their penises as girls are about their breasts. Most 6- to 8-year-old boys aren't having wet dreams yet, but they may be hearing about them from older friends and siblings. You can explain, "A wet dream is a sign that a boy is going through puberty. His testes are making a lot of sperm all the time, and when a lot of it has collected, it has to get out. The sperm comes out in semen when a boy's asleep. It's not the same as wetting your bed. Wet dreams are normal and natural, and most boys have them." Other questions about penises include, "What's ejaculation? What's a boner? How big is my penis going to get? Do all boys have the same kind of penis?"
"What does 'gay' mean?" Unless he's already learned strong judgments about homosexuality from adults, a young grade-schooler is apt to accept same-sex relationships among adults fairly easily. But at this age, your child may be curious about how different relationships work. You can tell your grade-schooler, "'Gay' is another word for 'homosexual.' A gay person is attracted to people of the same gender — so a gay man is attracted to men. A gay woman is called a lesbian, and she's attracted to women. If they love each other — like Mom and Dad love each other — homosexual adults can have sex together, live together, and raise children together." Your child may also ask, "What's a 'homo'? Why is 'gay' a bad word? How can two women or men get married? How do gay people have babies?"
"What are you and Dad doing?" Many parents dread that their child might walk in on them during sex. It can also be acutely embarrassing for your grade-schooler. It's nearly impossible not to get flustered, but try (and then start locking the bedroom door!). You can say, "Honey, Daddy and I need privacy right now. If you go back to your room, I'll be there in just a minute." Then put on a robe, take a few deep breaths, and go talk to your child. "Mom and Dad were making love, showing how much we care about each other. We usually lock the door because that's private. We forgot this time." Depending on your child's reaction, you can ask, "Did that upset you? Is there anything you need?" Make sure your child isn't scared or worried by what he saw, and be sure to emphasize that he didn't do anything wrong. Don't chide, "You should have knocked!" By now your child is already wishing he hadn't gone in.
If you're sure your grade-schooler understood what he saw, you might try to ease the tension with a little humor by saying, "Well, this isn't exactly how I'd planned to teach you about sex! I'm a little embarrassed, but I'll get over it. Now, ask me anything you want." A grade-schooler's response to seeing you making love can range from an upset, "Were you hurting each other?" to a curious "Why were you making that noise?" to an embarrassed, "I'm getting out of here!"