Discussing Sexuality from Infancy to Adolescence: Resources, Tips and Pitfalls to Avoid

Our collaborator discussed sexuality education with Amélie Bleau, sexologist and general manager of Sexplica. Here are his tips and some pitfalls to avoid.

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ATTENTION! The English translation is automated - Errors (sometimes hilarious!) can creep in! ;)

Our collaborator discussed sexuality education with Amélie Bleau, sexologist and general manager of Sexplays. Ms. Bleau reminds us from the outset: talking about sexuality with children, whether they are very young or almost adult, requires adaptation, openness and the right tools.

Sexuality education is part of compulsory apprenticeships of the Québec school training program. Since the early 2000s, it has been provided by a variety of interventions from school personnel. As this is a very broad subject that has an impact on several spheres of life: anatomy and body image, social and romantic relationships, prevention of abuse, etc. It is therefore not surprising that many workers (and even parents) are looking for resources and tips related to sexuality education among our young people.

What are the right resources?

Amélie Bleau is convinced: books are the best resources to consult and present to children. “A good book will target a specific age group. He will present concepts in a pictorial way, in simple words, according to the level of comprehension and the language skills of the child. "

Tips for choosing good books:

- Target a theme and validate the age range targeted by the author (usually indicated on the book).

- Choose Quebec books: the values and terms will be adapted to the reality of the young person.

- Choose recent works (less than 10 years old). The vision and issues related to sexuality evolve rapidly (LGBTQ2 +, poly love, sexting, laws, contraception, etc.) and certain stereotypes may be present in older works.

- Avoid books that present a very gendered vision of sexuality (book with blue or pink cover, aimed only at girls or boys). All topics can be discussed, regardless of the gender of the child.

Some pro tips to support ...

... The curious child / teenager who questions a lot

  1. Return the question to the child. "You, what do you think? What do you think this word means? This will allow you to identify what the young person understands and really wants to know.
  2. Limit yourself to short answers. Do an intervention that lasts 2 breaths no more! It is better to restrict his explanations and let the young person ask more questions if he feels the need.
  3. Base your explanations on factual evidence, not your personal and emotional view or interpretation of the issue. Try as much as possible to remain neutral in your explanations.

… The child who says things related to sexuality without knowing their content or meaning

Many children repeat words and expressions of a sexual nature that they have heard in the schoolyard, in the media or in their entourage. 

Here is a 3-step approach in this type of situation:

  1. Ask the child to explain the meaning of the word or expression he used in order to check his understanding and thus better intervene.
  2. If the child asks what the word or phrase really means: give a short (2 breaths trick) and factual explanation.
  3. Whether his understanding is right or wrong, make it clear that this word / phrase should not be used by children.

Amélie also offers a simple analogy to help children understand the danger of using certain terms: “Words are like wild fruits in the forest, if you don't know them, you don't use them; no more than one would eat any small fruit in the forest. Words can also hurt when you don't know them and are used incorrectly. "

Pitfalls to avoid

  1. Don't push the school-aged child or teen to talk if they don't show the need to. Just show that you are present, open and able to discuss and answer questions, without judgment.
  2. Young people may want to talk, but not with you. Do not insist but remind them that they can discuss with adults around them or consult valid and current books.
  3. Stay tuned for what kids are watching, reading and receiving as news, especially on interactive gaming apps and sites, and on social media like TikTok, SnapChat, Messenger Kids, Instagram, and more. It is always preferable to support young people in their exploration and use of digital technology. 

Having healthy and open discussions, factual and unbiased, without going beyond your own limits as an adult, remains a complex task, it goes without saying! Getting the tools, listening, advocating respect, adapting to needs are all elements that will help build lasting communication with our young people that will have a positive impact on their vision of themselves and their relationships with them. the others, throughout their lives.

On this subject, see our article 7 ways to educate about sex with confidence recently appeared on the École branchée. 

Some online resources to equip adults:

Training and workshops at the elementary and secondary level, for adults, parents and seniors (regions of the National Capital and Chaudière-Appalaches)
Sexology support line 418 624-6808, ext. 23 (the resource for parents of )
24/7 phone support for parents: 1 800 361-5085 my body in words and images
Realistic visuals, descriptions and audio elements related to anatomy, pregnancy, sexuality, relationships and feelings, rights and the law.

To be born and grow
Articles related to issues related to sexuality education for children aged 5 to 8.

Understanding the sexuality education program for our children in elementary school (Help her child)

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About the Author

Annik De Celles
Annik De Celles
Annik De Celles is a teacher by training. After more than 15 years in the field of education at the secondary level, she has an entrepreneurial sting and founded her own company in the agri-food sector that she operates, while teaching part-time, until 2016. In 2017, Annik leaves teaching to become general manager of Septembre éditeur. She uses her passion for educational issues, the world of books and entrepreneurship, in addition to getting involved in various organizations. Annik is the author of 3 healthy cookbooks and 2 practical guides in entrepreneurship.

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