Kids Talk: What To Do When Your Kid Starts Learning About Sex At School
“Lea said that she saw a man on top of a woman, kissing her privates on TV.”
“Lea said a boy asked her to marry him and she said ‘no’ and then he got on top of her and started kissing her and she said ‘yes.’
“Stop talking to that girl!” you scream. “She’s making up stories!” It comes out harsher than you intend, but you don’t know what to do? Like, really, Pre-K is where your kid is supposed to learn about numbers and patterns, not SEX. But lately it seems that is the education she’s getting, and from another preschooler no less.
What do you do when your kid is learning about sex at school?
It ain’t right.
This little girl (who you’re already familiar with because early in the school year your daughter came home asking to watch Scandal because it’s apparently Lea’s favorite show), is undoing all the work you and your husband have done to keep inappropriate images out of your daughter’s sight. Your girl’s not even allowed to watch Barbie Life In The Dream House because Barbie’s got a boyfriend and spends her time shopping, hanging by the pool, and trying to emulate the Kardashian lifestyle. Music videos don’t exist in your home, which means she knows rapper Nicki Minaj more from some hair ads in your neighborhood than her music. But now the system has been corrupt and you’re screaming, ‘Mayday!’
You only see two options, have the sex talk with your kid way before you intended or let her learn about the birds and the bees through her buddy at school.
You talk to your friend Quiana about it because she has a daughter in Pre-K, and though she hasn’t experienced this, she has had situations where her daughter picked up on news stories before she and her husband were able to come up with an age-appropriate response. Boy, can you relate.
Being so caught off-guard on this caused you to lash out at her little friend Lea and something tells you that it wasn’t an appropriate response. Honestly, though, when your cub is being threatened you’re gonna make sure she gets away from the fire. But when you think about it, how realistic is it that your daughter will be able to stop talking to this friend? In fact, she’ll probably want to talk to her even more because we do what we’re told not to do, right?
So what’s the answer?
Oh, just call Dr. Carothers already! She’s gotten you out of more parenting jams than a traffic cop. She’ll help figure this out.
“While it’s totally normal not to want to have the birds and bees conversation with your four or five-year-old, it’s never too early to start talking about things that they may be exposed to whether it be on TV or from friends. There’s lots of content in the media that’s highly-sexualized that kids can see inadvertently, and it’s natural for them to have questions. They often talk about what they’ve seen as a way to explore what it means and as a way to get additional information. One thing I would do is explain that there are some things that are for adults who really care about each other, and as you get older you’ll learn more about those things, but what the girl probably saw is sex or making love.”
“You want to use the language that the child has given you, and you want to give as much truthful information back as possible,” explains the doctor. “You don’t want to say the girl is lying or make it so she’s an untrustworthy friend.”
Dr. Carothers goes on to say: “So you tell your daughter that what her friend Lea is talking about is a natural part of life, but at this age it isn’t something that she has to worry about. It may be a good time to have a conversation with the Pre-K teacher to let’em know that some kids have been exposed to this type of content so she can have a general conversation about parents being more cognizant of what they’re kids are seeing. That will definitely happen.”
“One thing to remember as you’re raising your child is they’re going to get this information from somewhere so you want to be able to funnel it and have the first say. It’s better to get ahead of it and be proactive than reactive.”
But where do you start?
“There are some children’s books that do a really good job of giving developmentally appropriate information about things related to nature, sex and reproduction,” says Dr. Carothers. Read a few books to find which you’re most comfortable with and that way you’ll have a consistent message you can give to your kids. Common Sense Media is a website that can help you see what type of content is appropriate for your kid.”
Man, you didn’t handle this well, but that’s why you reached out to the good Dr. You can’t know what you don’t know. More than anything, you’re seeing that there’s a positive way to move forward with this, and no, your daughter won’t be turning to prostitution because Lea talked to her about sex.
The more casual you can be around sex as a conversation, the less she’ll see it as a cause for alarm. One thing you do regret is how you demonized the other little girl. She doesn’t know what she’s seeing and probably just wanted someone to talk to about it. You didn’t have to drag someone else’s kid down to save your own. Next time, you’ll see if there’s a way to stand for both of them. That’s the true meaning of ‘it takes a village.’