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Sexual development in toddlers - How do you deal with awkward questions?

2021-08-20 00:00:00

Written by Amber Simons

Every parent with a curious toddler in the house knows that the 'why' and 'how come' questions are part of everyday life. As a parent, you can usually get away with answering 'what do you think?', or you can come up with an answer together with your toddler in an inquisitive way. But as soon as the questions reach the terrain of discomfort, things suddenly become difficult. And this is often the case when it comes to sexual development. 

Why doesn't mummy have a willy?
How should you respond when your toddler wonders where he actually came from? Or why mummy does not have a willy? The key to success in educating toddlers about sexuality is often to keep it simple. 
But if your answer "From mummy's tummy" gets follow-up questions, then it becomes tricky. Because although children are not yet consciously involved in sexual development, they are very curious about everything around it. And the question "But how did I get into mommy's belly?" is inevitable. It is logical that you are at a loss for words. 

What you can do
Let's start by saying that the curiosity of toddlers, also in this area, has to do with an innate urge to develop. To know. To understand. And that it is also simply a privilege for you as a parent that your toddler wants to collect his knowledge about the big world from you in particular. 
Of course, this does not mean that you always have to have an answer for everything. So if you have any difficult or uncomfortable questions, don't hesitate to give yourself some time to think. Especially when it comes to subjects like sexual development and education. It's ok to tell your toddler that you think it's a very good question and that you'll come back to it later. And, just know that it will only become easier to talk about all body, sex and sexuality issues later if you are relaxed about it now!

What better not to do
What you shouldn't do is distort the truth. Making up a story to make it easier for yourself will not help your child. Sex education for toddlers can be done in as much or as little detail as you like, but be honest. Babies are not brought by storks and they didn't come out of mum via the bellybutton during birth. Children are entitled to honest information that gives them the right knowledge about the 'how' and 'why'. 
Does that mean that you have to throw all the truths on the table at once? No, that is absolutely not necessary. During toddlerhood, a simple and not too elaborate answer is often sufficient. But be open. 

Would you like to know more about the sexual development of children and are you curious about more tips on how to support this development in a good way or tips on how to approach the sexual education of toddlers? Then listen to our podcast (only in Dutch), in which host Amber and coach Laurie tell you all about this topic and discuss listener questions.
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