How to Talk to Children About Love and Sex

We teach children to read and we expect them to read. We teach them about numbers and we expect them to be able to do mathematical equations. So then how can we not teach our kids about human sexuality and still expect them to make sensible love and relationship decisions? Some societies say that sex education will cause more pregnancy, but drivers’ education certainly doesn’t cause more accidents, does it?

The wonderful thing about explaining sex to kids is that you usually don’t have to bring up the subject. It comes up on its own. Whether they see a couple kissing, a pregnant woman or dogs mating, opportunities abound to make talking about sex a normal and natural part of growing up. Be the first to discuss love and sex in a positive context. If you don’t start talking to your kids early, it’s not going to take any time at all before they think they know more than you. Then, don’t count on them listening.

As parents, you need to be their mentors. So, you must be well versed on sexuality. As humans, our sexuality is the second basic instinct after survival, and we start our sexual journey from a very early age. Below are four sexual developmental stages that we all go through. As parents, it is important for you to familiarize yourself with these so that you can communicate better with your children.


  • Experience oral exploration and gratification
  • Develop an awareness of their body parts, including the genitals
  • Develop a sense of trust.


  • Master control over elimination (weeing and pooing)
  • Become aware of our body parts and sex differences
  • Develop an interest in family relationships and sex roles


  • Identify with the parent of the same sex
  • Experiment in innocent sex play
  • Can run around the house naked and feel no shame

Children and early teens:

  • Develop an intense curiosity about sexuality
  • Participate in same-sex play activities
  • Keep their sexual thoughts to ourselves
  • Enjoy jokes and songs with sexual content.

You should also discuss the various physical changes and how they can affect your child’s emotions, preferably before they occur. Here is a list of physical changes that children go through and need to be prepared for with your help:

  • Erections
  • Masturbation
  • Wet Dreams
  • Lubrication
  • Pubic Hair
  • Breast Development
  • Menstruation
  • Ovulation
  • Ejaculation
  • Orgasm
  • Acne

Do you remember how some of the above made you feel emotionally? Sharing your own experiences with your child can be very reassuring for them. What is love? – How can you define love to a child? Here are some definitions…

1. Love is from Old English lufu, ‘to desire’ and Latin lubere, ‘to please’.

2. Love is a deep feeling of affection.

3. In Buddhism Love is wanting others to be happy

4. Love is a circle that begins with children and ends with grandparents. It creates, feeds, guides and helps children grow so that they can become like mommy and daddy (explanation for toddlers).

5. Love can be different for everyone, but comes from the same special place…the heart. And that is why people draw hearts when they speak of Love (for young kids).

6. Giving & receiving love is the meaning of life! (adults) Now come up with your own definition of what love is for toddlers, kids and teens.

This is an excerpt from The Loveologist Guide to Parental Concerns by Dr. Ava Cadell, Ph.D., Ed.D. Visit Dr. Ava’s bookstore at Loveology University —


  1. This is a topic that I continue to struggle with at every stage of my girls development. (The are 8 and 5 1/2 right now).

    These days our new puppy is humping everything he can see! My 5 years old keeps saying, "Boy Yoda is really excited!" and my 8 year old says "He's humping again" but she doesn;t really know what it means. To be honest, I have no idea how to talk about it!

  2. Dr. Ava-children know about this in an instinctive way. My mom came from a victorian influenced background and was always very shy on this subject. My dad's side of the family talked loudly about it all, earthy and so on.

    Mostly I think kids know more than we give them credit for.

    The sex part of it, I think that it is important to let the kids know somethings are private, and to teach them about boundaries. That it is ok to say "No!".

    How you express things to kids is different according to what age they are.

    If you feel nervous about it, they can pick that up. It's an energy.

    People don't like to talk about it, but children engage in sex play at very early ages. It's part of our genetics, but also, we depend on our parents to teach us what is appropriate.

    Love is an important thing that is connected to sex, but sex is a topic with so many aspects to reflect on, when teaching children.

    My parents, in the time I was growing up , used to call sex "mating", and later, sometimes "making love".

    The "mating" was used to refer to what all animals did to reproduce, and I think that they would speak rather matter-of-factly about that being what the animals were trying to do. I used to think it was funny, the humping. It is humorous!

    Keeping a sense of humor is good for a lot of discussions, which evolve as your children grow.

    Thank you for bringing this important subject up.

    My daughter is grown now, and I'm pretty sure she has a pretty natural approach to this subject, due to the fact that we considered "lovins'" to be one of the better parts of life.

    If any one has any specific questions, I'd be happy to share, thanks for the opportunity to speak on this.

    cheers all, Jasmina