Masturbation, puberty, relationships – all of us discover these things pretty early on. And yet, these fundamental experiences are something most of us hesitate to speak about.
It is important, however, that children learn about these subjects from the right sources and in a sensitive manner. With the internet giving them easy access to all kinds of content, which could potentially skew their perception about healthy sexual behaviour and sexuality, it is crucial for them to be able to ask questions and decode the media they consume with a trustworthy and sensitive adult.
The need for sexuality education does not make talking about it easier. And more often than not, parents and guardians may find themselves struggling to start a conversation that isn’t filled with awkward silences, and is instead a fruitful discussion.
Thankfully, parents and educators now have a helping hand on the internet. In a series called Having the Talks, the website Amaze has curated some helpful talking points, conversation starters and even scripts that adults can use to start an age-appropriate and comfortable discussion about topics like porn, puberty, bullying, relationships, and more.
For instance, if you want to speak to your child about masturbation, Amaze suggests the following conversation starters:
“I noticed that movie you and your friends were watching the other night had a masturbation scene and everyone got super squeamish and awkward. Why do you think it made people so uncomfortable? Did it make you uncomfortable?”
“What myths exist about masturbation these days? When I was growing up it was crazy things like you could run out of sperm or it would change when you got your periods. Is that still what you and your friends hear these days?”
These are merely two of the many easy starting points listed in the document. It also advises parents about what they should keep in mind while having these discussions. For instance, it tells parents not to overwhelm children with information while having the talk, to ask open-ended questions to understand their viewpoint, to make them feel comfortable and normalise the experience in case they get embarrassed, and so on.
The ‘key message scripts’ are another helpful input provided under each topic. These documents tell you about the messages you should convey while having the conversation, and how you should project them – and the website has quite literally provided scripts to help you!
For example, while talking to kids about porn, the key messages are – porn is common on the internet, curiosity about it is normal, pornographic images are unrealistic, and it’s okay to talk to a trusted adult about this.
For the first, you could say, “It’s not your fault if you stumble upon porn. It’s really easy to find it intentionally or come across it accidentally.” And if you want to talk about how porn misrepresents sex and intimacy, you could say, “Porn is only about sex; it does not show true intimacy or the trust and respect that should exist in a healthy romantic relationship.”
Navigating the website it easy – the topics are listed along with an introductory video on the landing page itself. Beside each topic is a little button which says, ‘Dig deeper’. Click on that and you will be able to access the talking points, scripts and key messages for the particular subject.
It also has a separate section on these topics for educators.
There are also a number of helpful videos and resources on Amaze, which talk about sexually transmitted diseases, consent, sexual orientation, healthy relationships and signs of puberty. The videos are quirky and are child friendly.
Check out some of them here:
You can see more such videos with your children on Amaze's YouTube page.