Top tips on talking to your child or teenager about sex and relationships.

Talking to your child can be a daunting thing but don’t let that put you off. Research shows that talking to your child about sex and relationships means they tend to have sex at a later age, then those that don't. Plus they are more likely to use contraception.

When to start
  • Start having conversations early in your child's life
  • Try talking about whenever you feel its suitable - don’t treat it as a one off topic, children will be naturally curious about where babies come from and their own and other people’s bodies
  • Boys and girls could begin puberty as early as 8 years old so try to talk to them about bodies and how they work
Be open and honest
  • Be open and honest - if you don’t know the answer say and then maybe look it up together
  • Don’t instantly assume your teen is having sex if they are asking you questions about it
  • Be prepared for awkward questions at awkward times - being asked where babies come from at the supermarket checkout is a tough one to answer when your juggling paying and packing. Telling your child ‘great question lets talk about that when we get home or when we get in the car’ might placate them, also make sure you do have the conversation
  • If your feeling embarrassed by your child or teenager questions speak to other parents, family and friends about how they dealt with these conversations – it also might be worth having a selection of books and leaflets around for your child or teenager to look through on their own or talk through with you
  • Where appropriate bring a bit of humour into the conversation
  • If your child or teenager is asking questions try to gauge why. It might be that they are generally curious or they might have underlying anxieties
  • Treat all the questions that your child or teenager asks as serious - you are laying a base for years to come
Talk about healthy relationships
  • Talk to your child or teenager about healthy relationships and how some relationships can be inappropriate  
  • Talk to your child or teenager about different types of relationships that women and men have
  • Talk about sex and relationships little and often, use cues from television programmes (soap characters building relationships) and products you see in the shops (such as tampons, sanitary pads, condoms etc)
  • Talk to your teenager about consent and being responsible and safe
Talk about sexual health
  • Discuss contraception with your boys and girls, knowing what it is and where you can get it will give them a leg up when they need to make decisions
  • Discuss Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and how to prevent them
  • Talk about safer sex – using a condom and preventing STIs
Further information