KIDS often pose the trickiest questions.
From queries about sex and booze to drugs and race — these often ill-timed musings can catch you totally off guard.
But there is nothing to fear, as Nikki Watkins finds out from children’s emotional wellbeing expert Poppy O’Neill, who provides some perfect responses to those toe-curling conundrums.
‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’
“If your child catches you both in a compromising position, reassure them you and your partner were having fun together, doing something grown-ups do called sex.
“Let them know that although sex is normal and healthy, it’s not for children to see or participate in.
“Explain that sex is private and you stopped as soon as you realised they were there. And reinforce that they haven’t done anything wrong.
“Older children might be shocked that their parents do it — be honest with them, and reassure them it’s a sign of a healthy adult relationship.”
‘WHAT IS SEX?’
“Focus on consent and healthy relationships, and always use the correct terms when talking about body parts.
“You can tell them that sex is something lovely that two adults can do with each other that makes them feel close, and it feels good.
“You can explain: ‘When two adults who love and trust each other want to feel really close, they touch each other’s bodies and private parts in a way that feels good for both of them’.
“For older children, you can go into more detail by explaining things like: ‘There are different ways of having sex.
“The type of sex that makes babies is when a man puts his penis into a woman’s vagina and releases sperm. If a sperm cell and an egg cell combine, a baby grows in the woman’s womb’.”
‘DOES SEX FEEL NICE?’
“Questions like this are difficult as they can seem so personal, but it is likely that a youngster posing this toe-curler will be able to deal with a proper explanation of intercourse.
“Detail that an orgasm is something that occurs from sex and is a feeling deep in your body that is nice.
“However, if young children under six ask this, you can be very clear and say: ‘Sex does feel nice when you’re an adult and it’s with someone you love and trust, and you both care about each other and want to have sex’.”
‘WHAT ARE DRUGS?’
“Make your answer simple by explaining drugs are something that some adults use because they think they will help them feel more relaxed or have more fun — but they can cause problems in your body and they can make you quite ill.
“Explain that most of them are illegal, meaning you can get in trouble with the police for having, taking or selling them.
“Be honest about the risks and do some research together — talktofrank.com is a great resource for honest information on different drugs.
“Try to steer clear of admitting to any drug use of your own or telling your teen how to use drugs.”
‘DOES WINE TASTE NICE?’
“For this question, take a relaxed approach. A good start is: ‘I think wine tastes nice — some adults do and some don’t’.
“Explain: ‘It’s got alcohol in it, which is a chemical that makes adults feel relaxed if they have a little bit, but it can make them quite ill and cause problems in their bodies if they have too much.
“It tastes different to non-alcoholic drinks, and it’s not for children. When you’re older, you might like to try some’.”
‘WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT COLOUR SKIN?’
“Questions around race can leave parents flustered, as we are keen for our kids to be kind and have the right information.
“This subject should be tackled with straightforward information.
“Say something like: ‘Having different coloured skin isn’t a problem — it’s great that everyone is different. But some people treat those with skin a different colour from theirs less well — and this is called racism. Racism is unacceptable’.”
‘WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN?’
“Children are exposed to what is happening in the world through the TV, news, radio amd especially via social media and their peers.
“It can make them nervous, so firstly let your child express their feelings about the ‘bad thing’ they have heard about as they might be afraid that it will happen to them.
“Reassure them by saying: ‘It feels scary that this happened, but you are safe’.
“Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of an event, help your child look for the ‘helpers’ — the fire fighters, teams of volunteers and kind neighbours.
“Even very sad stories have caring people in the background — stories about disease can be balanced by encouraging words about the scientists in the background discovering cures and vaccines.”
- Poppy O’Neill is the author of Don’t Worry Be Happy: A Child’s Guide To Dealing With Feeling Anxious, published by Vie, priced £10.99.