Teaching Sexual Health to Kids

Posted in   Dr. Lanae   on  December 17, 2015 by  Lanae minutes remaining

It was a typical weekday morning in our house. I was the first one up, and my kids were moving slowly to get ready for school. I headed downstairs to make some breakfast for us. Marcia came downstairs topless and in a rush; she showed me a little red spot on her left breast and asked, “Mom, is this anything?” It looked like a small red mark left after a scratch, so I told her that and that it didn’t seem to be anything to be concerned about, but that we can check on it again later. She bounded back upstairs to finish getting ready.

When she eventually came down for breakfast, I thanked Marcia for coming to me and told her how happy I was that she felt comfortable enough to ask me about any concerns. I know some girls don’t have a trusted adult they can talk to and, therefore, might keep any concerns they have about their growing bodies to themselves.

Breast Self-Exam

Marcia knows I think it is a good idea for her to get to know her body and how it feels now because I have said it plenty of times. In our home, we have a breast self-exam (BSE) hang tag on the shower head, and I encourage my daughters to learn that. I firmly believe each of us should have a baseline knowledge of how our breasts feel for the health of our whole lives. This morning as we talked I told Marcia about finding a lump in my breasts in the past and that I had it checked out by a physician to learn it wasn’t a concern. As I talked about this, I unconsciously felt my breasts and noticed aloud that they were tender, “Ah. I’m due to get my period soon.”

Marcia told me her breasts were tender too. Of course, after she said this I wondered aloud if she would get her period soon too. Simultaneously, Marcia opened up the front of her underwear and peeked down to see if she got it. She was being funny because she knew that’s where I was going and beat me to the punchline. Smarty pants.

One doesn’t have to be a board certified sexologist to know that the sexual health of boys is equally important. Doctors recommend boys do a Testicular Self Exam (TSE) starting at age 15. Parents can help their sons know their bodies by giving them permission to perform this exam for themselves. It’s an empowering thing to give our children health information they can use.

The kidshealth.org website explains why doctors do not usually recommended BSE’s for teen girls. They also acknowledge that it is a good idea for the new breast owners to get used to how their breasts look and feel, even as they are developing. This picture shows how one performs a breast self-exam.

Teaching self-care to your tween/teenager is not about stimulating and it’s not about self-pleasuring. Being familiar with our bodies is NOT a sexual thing; it’s merely teaching sexual health, and sexual health is important for everyone.


The MamaSutra

About the Author Lanae

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.

  1. There is nothing that could be truer than what you’ve just written. If only parents could just see that creating an open space for their children to relate and discuss their sexuality is one of the biggest gifts they could ever give them. Thank you for being open and even using your personal experience to bring the message out. I am about to release a book on why parents should discuss sex with their kids. And l want to thank you for your good work.

    1. Thank you for your reply Oladele. I’m happy you liked the post. This approach is one I fully stand behind. It’s so important for kids to get honest information so they can best care for themselves.

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