Every parent at some point is faced with the question of “where do babies come from?” So what is a parent to do, when is the right age for “the talk”. What is an appropriate response when a preschooler asks the question? The right time for the talk is most likely going to be much earlier than you think. And it will also most likely happen in small Q and A sessions over a few years as a child’s cognitive abilities develop.
These questions are mysteries to most parents, it is not a subject that most parents of preschoolers think they will have to address. At this age children are just mastering potty
training, taking turns and sharing why in the heck are they wanting to know about sex already? Keep in mind that sex per se is not what they are actually wanting to know but a very simplistic explanation of where a baby comes from. Not until late elementary or early middle school will you need to worry about the “actual talk.”
It is wise for families to kind of be prepared for the inevitable question of “where do babies come from”. The stork, or wait and ask your father is NOT an appropriate response. Although you may not realize it but when your child asks you these difficult questions, giving them developmentally appropriate matter of fact responses is setting the stage for
communication for the rest of your lives together.
Here’s an important tip: Never avoid a “teachable moment.” Dive in and offer accurate information whenever your child sashays anywhere near the topic of sex. Don’t wait for the
point‐blank question to be asked. Keep your answer confined to what is asked. For example, “Mom, how does the baby get out of your body?” Your answer: “Through a special opening between my legs. That’s why it’s there.” If your child did not ask at that moment how a baby got in there in the first place, don’t start there. Just answer the question asked.
Around the age of three my daughter had a friends mother who was pregnant so her natural question and curiosity was how did the baby get in there. My response was simplistic and only addressed that particular question “the daddy plants a seed that begins to grow into a baby inside the mommy.”
Most preschoolers will be satisfied with a response similar to that one. Only a few children in this age range will further question how the daddy plants the seed, the reason for this is
they typically will formulate their own ideas as to how this takes place and that is ok. It is not until they gain more complex thinking and processing skills that will result in more technical questions.
Again, I can not stress enough how important it is to be very honest, answer only the questions asked and never avoid the topic regardless of the age of the child or how uncomfortable it makes you feel. Opening the communication lines at an early age will benefit you in the long run as a parent.
Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director of Partners In Learning. Her education includes an associate’s degree from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro in human development and family studies with a concentration in birth-kindergarten. She also holds a master’s degree at UNCG. She also serves as a CBRS therapist for the center.