• Home
  • Blog
  • What’s The Best Age To Talk To Your Kids About Sex? When To Talk To Kids About Sex

What’s The Best Age To Talk To Your Kids About Sex? When To Talk To Kids About Sex


What’s the best age to talk to your kids about sex?

Radical take: It actually doesn’t matter. 

If you’re not ready, then you won’t do it nor make time for it. 

In this post, I’ll walk you through how to start talking about sex no matter where you are on your journey.

Here’s everything you need to be ready to talk to kids about sex.

When to talk to kids about sex

Even when people know the “right” age to talk about certain topics with their kids, they still hold back because they’re not ready. 

How do you become ready?

It starts with addressing any lingering issues or emotions you might have about sexuality. Whether it’s embarrassment, shame, guilt, uncertainty, or plain awkwardness, resolving these feelings is the first step. Once you’re comfortable with the topic, the rest becomes much easier.

This readiness factor extends to your conversations with your partner, too. Open and honest discussions about your feelings can greatly enhance your connection.

Are you curious yet? I’m here to help you. Here are some resources to help you feel comfortable talking about sex with your kids and tips for making these conversations easier:

Age appropriate sex education

There really is no prescriptive way to talk to your kids about sex. Every parent-child relationship is different and these conversations will come up organically over your child’s lifetime! Talking about sex isn’t just talking about intercourse. There will be teachable moments from an early age, starting with body autonomy.

What I’ve noticed in my own practice is that households that have open conversations about sex and sexuality had children that were less influenced by peers and the media in their own sexual development. One key aspect of an open environment by talking about topics related to sex in a compassionate way with both your partner and your child starting today.

As the child grows, they’ll naturally ask questions, giving you the opportunity to explain things to your child as they are ready. You can start age appropriate conversations about sex around three years of age. Believe me: sex education is relevant at ALL ages!

Ages 3-5: Basics and Body Awareness

At this age, most children will be exploring their own bodies (making bath time full of teachable moments!). As your child asks questions, focus on basic body awareness and correct terminology. Kids are naturally curious about their bodies and differences between boys and girls.

  • Body Parts: Teach them the proper names for all body parts, including genitals. This helps normalize their anatomy and builds a foundation for future discussions.
    • Example: “This is your penis, and this is your vulva. They are parts of your body just like your arms and legs.”
  • Privacy and Boundaries: Begin discussing the concept of privacy and respecting boundaries.
    • Example: “Some parts of your body are private, and it’s important to keep them covered and only let trusted adults, like parents or doctors, see them when necessary.”

Ages 6-8: Understanding Differences and Respect

As kids grow, they start noticing more about gender differences and relationships. This is a good time to expand on body awareness and introduce basic concepts of reproduction.

  • Reproduction Basics: Introduce simple explanations about where babies come from, without going into explicit details.
    • Example: “Babies grow in a special place inside their mother’s body called the uterus.”
  • Respect and Consent: Teach the importance of respecting others’ boundaries and personal space.
    • Example: “It’s important to ask before you hug someone or touch them, just like you would want them to ask you.”

Ages 9-12: Puberty and Emotional Changes

Pre-teens start experiencing puberty, which brings physical and emotional changes. It’s so important to prepare them for what’s to come or else they will be released into the wild with no tools to anchor them through the storms.

  • Puberty: Explain the changes their bodies will go through, such as growth spurts, menstruation, and voice changes.
    • Example: “As you grow, your body will start to change. Girls might get their periods, and boys might notice their voices getting deeper.”
  • Emotional Changes: Discuss the emotional ups and downs that come with puberty and the importance of self-care.
    • Example: “You might feel a lot of different emotions as you grow. It’s okay to talk about how you’re feeling.”

Ages 13-15: Deeper Understanding of Relationships and Consent

Teenagers start forming more complex relationships and need guidance on navigating these changes. Topics related to sexual intercourse, gender identity, birth control, and sexual orientation will naturally appear in their own development. It’s helpful as parents to stay calm and take it one conversation at a time.

  • Sexual Relationships: Provide accurate information about sex, contraception, and the risks involved.
    • Example: “Sex is a natural part of relationships, but it’s important to understand how to protect yourself and make informed choices.”
  • Consent and Respect: Reinforce the importance of consent in all relationships and respect for partners.
    • Example: “Always ensure that both you and your partner are comfortable and agree with what’s happening. Consent is key.”

Ages 16-18: Preparing for Independence

Older teens are on the brink of adulthood, and it’s time to equip them with the knowledge and resources to make responsible decisions, especially when it comes to sexual health.

  • Safe Sex Practices: Ensure they understand how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies.
    • Example: “Using condoms and other forms of contraception can help protect you from STIs and prevent pregnancy.”
  • Healthy Relationships: Discuss the qualities of healthy relationships and how to recognize unhealthy ones.
    • Example: “A healthy relationship involves trust, respect, and communication. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, that’s a red flag.”

Common questions from parents

At what age should I have the talk with my son?

It’s never too early to start conversations with your child about sexual health. It’s best to start talking about body parts and basic concepts of privacy and boundaries as early as ages 3-5. More detailed conversations about puberty and reproduction should happen by ages 9-12, before they begin experiencing these changes.

How old should you be to have sex?

The appropriate age for having sex is less about a specific number and more about emotional maturity, understanding of consent, and readiness to handle the responsibilities and consequences. It’s important for teens to feel educated and prepared, both emotionally and physically.

What is the average age to have sex?

The average age at which teens first have sex varies, but studies show that in the United States, it’s typically around 17 years old. This age can differ based on cultural, social, and individual factors. According to the CDC, the median age for first intercourse is about 17 for both males and females.

Be ready to talk to your kids about sex

Educating your kids about sexual health is an ongoing conversation that evolves as they grow. Approach these discussions with honesty, openness, and a willingness to listen. Your guidance will help them navigate their development with confidence and respect for themselves and others.

And remember, you’re not alone if you want to begin this work. You can always book a call with me to discuss any questions or concerns you might have.


P.S. We all have moments when we feel like we’re “too much.” Maybe our emotions run deep, our energy feels larger than life, or perhaps someone once told us we were “too much.” Well, the affirmations in this video are tailored to help you embrace every facet of who you are, especially during those times when you might feel a bit “extra.” Take five minutes, relax, and let these affirmations wash over you and remind you of your strength:

About the Author

Follow me

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on themamasutra.com.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Optimized by Optimole