Workshop helps parents talk to children about sex

A free workshop will help parents talk to their preschool-aged children about their body parts and sexuality in general, as well as answer any sexual health questions parents have.

A free workshop will help parents talk to their preschool-aged children about their body parts and sexuality in general, as well as answer any sexual health questions parents have.

Nanaimo school district’s early years program hired a sexual health educator to host the workshop next month to provide tips for parents on how to broach this subject with their young children.

“I think some parents don’t quite know where to begin,” said Elizabeth Pennell, the district’s early years learning coordinator.

There are sexual health programs in kindergarten and Grade 1, but some issues come up before a child enters the public school system or parents have questions about whether a certain behaviour is normal, she said. For example, some parents want to know if it is OK for a father to bathe with his daughter and until what age.

The workshop will also talk about teaching children the proper names for their body parts right from the start, rather than using baby names, said Pennell.

“Instead of calling your penis a wee-wee, you would call it your penis in the same way you would call your elbow your elbow,” she said. “It’s less confusing to kids later on.”

Teaching children about their bodies and the real names of body parts increases a child’s abuse resistance, added Kerri Isham, a certified sexual health educator who will host the workshop.

If children can name their own body parts, it signals to a potential abuser that somebody is talking to them at home and they are more likely to report someone touching their private parts, she said.

“The thing I want to get across to parents is at every age level, there’s things children need to know to stay safe,” said Isham. “The more information the child gets – age appropriate, of course – the safer they are in the world.”

This knowledge also helps children develop a healthy body image and sense of self, she added.

Body Smart: Right from the Start is part of Parents’ Night Out, information sessions and workshops that the early years department has organized for parents for the past three years.

The district hosted several sessions last year, including the sexual health workshop with Isham. Other workshop topics included singing and storytelling, and social and emotional development in young children.

Pennell said more than 50 parents attended last year’s Body Smart workshop.

Registration is required for the workshop, which takes place Nov. 17 from about 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association office on Barons Road. The event also includes a free pizza dinner.

For more information or to register, please call Leah Pearson at 250-740-3507 or e-mail lpearson@sd68.bc.ca.