How to raise kids in a sex positive environment
“Shame, shame, puppy shame!”
You remember this line used to tease and embarrass kids who are running around naked or pee in their pants? From a very young age, kids are made to be ashamed of their bodies or bodily functions. We don’t think twice about chastising little ones for things like sitting in such a way that their clothes ride up. We are obsessed with covering up. Our own body image issues prevent us from even stepping into a swimming pool without extra layers. Even 4-year-olds are made to wear underpants with a swimming costume without any concern for chafing skin and despite knowing that a swimming costume is all you need to wear.
So before we talk about raising kids in a sex-positive environment, it is important to talk about how to raise kids in a body-positive environment says Hypnotherapist, Tasso-Transpersonal Regression Therapist, Yoga and Meditation teacher Tui Sigman. Here is her advice for dealing with children from a very young age in a sex-positive manner.
When does one begin talking about sex and sexuality to kids?
We help children discover their sexuality around the time they are 11 when the sex-ed class happens in school. That is the time when they discover the changes they are going through. But, even before that children are sexual. Though it does not have the same connotation as adult sexuality. For example, when mothers breastfeed their children, there is a lot of skin to skin contact but there is nothing sexual about it.
The premise of sexuality is driven by adult connotations. But, children as young as 4 or 5 will be touching themselves and if you ever find your child touching themselves it should not be a taboo where the child feels that they are doing something wrong.
How does one deal with kids when they start masturbating?
They should not be made to feel guilty when they discover that something makes them feel good or they get an orgasm. Once you start associating the emotion with the pleasure of an orgasm that becomes a segue into how you start expressing yourself as a sexual adult. So when a child is just beginning to learn about sex, stay open and don’t judge.
What to do if a child discovers a sex toy of a parent?
If the children are very young you may not have to explain. However, it shouldn’t be a big deal or a big conversation if a child who is over the threshold of puberty finds a sex toy. You should talk to them about it. But, more than talking you should ask them how does it make them feel and what are their questions. Then you should be honest about it. Most Indian kids don’t even want to think that their parents ever had sex.
How do we create an environment that fosters healthy sexuality?
One of the biggest issues in most Indian homes is not letting the children be comfortable in their own skin. If a child wants to be naked while playing with toys we should let them. There is no harm in changing in front of your little ones. Telling them shame or teaching them that being naked is bad comes from our own conditioning where we believe these taboos. Encourage them to be fit and to love their bodies. Nurture and foster healthy practices like yoga and lead by example. If you follow healthy practices that make you feel good and fit, your children will learn to do the same.
Is it right to teach kids things like, “love is important to have sex”?
To have healthy sexuality it is all about the individual’s emotional makeup. Some people will associate sex with love, some people will not necessarily equate it every single time with love. And that is not good or bad. One thing we need to remember and teach our kids is that nobody should make you feel bad about your own body.
If you teach your children to have a healthy relationship with their body, they will realise that everything we experience or enjoy comes through our bodies. Even the love that we experience is through our bodies. There is nothing to be ashamed of who you are and what you like. Whether you like girls, boys or both, it is up to them to explore their own sexuality. If you do that, then nobody can shame them.
Bottom Line: We need to open our minds and listen to what they think. Practice deep listening without judgement or advice. Just be there and accept them. Let children discover for themselves and if they have questions, they should know that they can come to you. That is a safe space where they will not be criticised and no matter what, they will be accepted.
If we give them acceptance, then they will accept themselves. And with that acceptance when they go into a bedroom with anybody, then it won’t matter whether it is for love or for sex. They will know what is enough for them and what is not. They will have enough self-respect to make decisions that are healthy for them.