Making our children aware about their bodies and physiology in this day and age is highly critical. Children are naturally curious and want to know about EVERYTHING. While some questions are relatively easy to answer, others can really put parents in a spot, because they either don’t know how to answer or approach a particular topic or are not comfortable to talk about it in front of their kids. Sex education is one such topic.
For parents, it is imperative to talk and have an open conversation about sensitive topics to make sure children don’t go around looking for such information from their peers, friends, or the internet.
During the Prophet’s (pbuh) time…
Men and women were never too shy to ask about anything during the Prophet’s (pbuh) time. In fact, in the Quran, Allah says, “Say: Are they equal to those who know, and those who do not know?” (Surah Az Zumar: Ayah 9).
Seeking knowledge is highly encouraged in Islam. Therefore, when your child comes up to you and asks, “How are babies born”, you should not feel uncomfortable because it is your duty as parents to protect them from getting information from wrong sources or outlets.
You are the shepherd…
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Each of you is a shepherd. Each one of you is responsible for his flock. The ruler is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of his household and is responsible for his flock. A woman is responsible for her flock and is the shepherd of her husband’s house.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari (853) and Muslim (1829)]
How do we begin with the topic of sex education for young kids?
Get started with these simple tips:
- Teach your child about male and female genders: It is essential to make a boy understand that he is different from his sister, and therefore, cannot wear his sister’s clothes, or earrings and other ornaments that are generally worn by girls. And likewise, for girls.
- Talk about awrah: The concept of awrah should be introduced to kids as early as possible. Teach them that their private parts should not be touched or uncovered in front of strangers or anyone they are not comfortable around. This includes relatives and friends. By making them aware of their boundaries, your child will not only learn about modesty, but will also understand that their bodies are sacred and cannot be touched inappropriately by anyone.
- Explain things from your child’s level: Most of the time, when the child asks how babies are born, you don’t have to go into elaborate details. Young children are satisfied with generalized answers. It’s important that you don’t avoid the question altogether. Not giving them right answers will lead to more curiosity and will make children collect information from wrong sources.
- Use the right words: Teach your child about gender parts by using the right words instead of being vague. For example, tell them that babies don’t grow in the mummy’s tummy but in the uterus which Allah has created.
- Ask questions: When you hear your child ask or say something that you feel is “age inappropriate”, before jumping to conclusions or getting alarmed, ask them where they heard that from. A simple, “Where did you hear that word” will help you get a better idea to give them an appropriate answer. It’s very common for kids to pick up words from television, so don’t panic if you find them asking questions about topics which you’ve never thought about.
- The “good” and “bad” touch: Teach young kids about who is allowed to touch them where and who isn’t. Kids need to learn to set boundaries. They should know that it’s not okay to allow someone to touch them without their consent. Parents, take heed when your child says he/she is not comfortable around someone. This person could be your beloved family member, a respected person in the household or community, or even your closest friend. No matter who the person is, when your child says he/she feels uncomfortable, keep your child close to you and don’t let them near people whom they feel unsafe around.
- Maintain a friendly environment: Your child will have lots of doubts and questions growing up. It is important for you to maintain a friendly and open atmosphere at home. This way, they will feel safe coming over to you and discuss anything under the sun, rather than feeling shy, scared or embarrassed. When you close the doors for discussion, children will immediately turn towards other outlets to satisfy their curiosity. Unfortunately, these outlets will bring about more harm than good.
As parents, it is important to remember that kids have a lot of questions and most of the time, they only need answers, not the details. Having healthy conversations with them from a young age will help them make informed choices when they get older.