Tips for Talking about Sexuality with Children and Teens

When the child or student hits you with a question about sexuality, it’s easy to get caught up in racing thoughts, frozen in fear, worrying about finding just the right words that convey what seems at the time an enormously important life lesson, and your only chance to get it right! First order of business… breathe… and know that this can be the first in many small conversations about the subject, it’s not your only chance to get it right. Most important is that you convey a warm response, one that communicates that you welcome your child or student’s questions. Then remember to tell the truth and answer just what was asked. Best way to know exactly where you’re going, ask, “What do you think?” Listen to the child, and you will know where to begin.

Tips for Talking

  • Welcome their questions and take their concerns seriously
  • Find out what they think about the topic being discussed
  • Be honest
  • Be genuine
  • Choose language carefully
  • Discuss, don’t dictate
  • Get to the point
  • Separate fact from opinion
  • Give praise for smart decisions and critical thinking
  • Help them learn from their mistakes
  • Give resources for further information


  • Listen
  • Respect their privacy
  • Model respectful relationships
  • Teach respect for individual differences


  • ‌Tease
  • Make assumptions
  • Criticize friends
  • Diminish their feelings, concerns, relationships
  • Pry
  • Share what they tell you with others