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Talking Sexuality – 4 Basics for Every Parent

Emi Canahuati sexuality education

You want to have open communication with your children about sexuality but have no idea where to start. This blog article gives you a foundation to use when talking sexuality with your children.

The four basics listed below is where you start. It may be that you’ve done things differently in the past. No matter. You can always go back to your child and explain that although you may have done things differently before, you’re going to try a different approach.

These are basics that I share with the parents in my workshops and my coaching practice.

1. Use correct and accurate language for body parts.

This is so key. Using the correct language gives your children a feeling of power and respect for all their body parts (they are not too clinical or grown-up), conveys messages that there is nothing different about these body parts compared to others, and gives children accurate language to be able to communicate to others regarding any inappropriate touching. (correct terms are: penis, testicles, breasts/chest area, vulva (not vagina), anus, buttocks)

2. Don’t freak out or use punishment.

If anything of a “sexual nature” (e.g. walk in on your child playing “doctor”, find out your child has watched porn, they are touching their genitals) happens, you want to try to keep as calm as possible. If you can gently and calmly stop the behavior and then step out or away until you can address it more thoroughly. There are many behaviors that are a part of normal sexual development in children. Sometimes those behaviors are concerning and you do need to do some further follow-up.

If your goal is to keep open communication and serve as a resource for your child regarding sexuality, then you want to react calmly. If you get angry or punish your child for the behavior, the inadvertent message sent is that you “cannot handle this” or “they will get in trouble for this” and so they may not come to you if there is a problem or there is something wrong in the future.

Imagine this scenario: Your child is playing with her best friend from school in her room. You walk in and find that they have taken off their pants and are looking at each other’s private parts (most likely normal behavior). If you scream or yell or punish them, how do you think they might act if it’s an abusive situation in which someone else asked them to remove their clothes and look or touch their genitals? They will remember that you got angry and they don’t want to get “into trouble”. They might also assume that they did something wrong and so might remain quiet. This is not what we want.

3. If you are uncomfortable it’s ok to say that.

Our children can sense when we are uncomfortable. You can say something like: “This is uncomfortable for me, but this is important and I want us to be able to talk about this.” You can talk about your experience growing up if you didn’t have anyone to talk to and how you want them to have a different experience.

4. You don’t have to know exactly what to say.

Keep in mind that the goal of any interaction (whether it’s about sexuality or anything else) should be that at the end of it you have further opened the door to communication (easy right??!!). So your goal is not for the conversation to go smoothly and you be perfectly articulate and comfortable (that will come with practice). Your goal is for your child to leave feeling like they can come to you with any questions they might have about sexuality. To feel connected. It will get easier and smoother as you PRACTICE more. I promise.


To get a workshop setup for your group or to set up a coaching session. You can contact me for a free no-obligation 30-minute consultation. Click here to get in touch!

About the Author

Emi Canahuati

I help parents have positive, non-judgmental conversations with their children about sex and sexuality. I’m certified as a sexuality educator by AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists), and hold a Master’s Degree in counseling.