Be sex positive and informed

Two people in bed

Being sex positive and informed when talking to your teenager about sex can help them to make safe and respectful choices in their own sexual relationships.

Scare tactics don’t work. Try to keep positive by focusing on the wonderful aspects of relationships and sex, as well as discussing the inherent risks. Balance is key!

Include a range of topics

Human sexuality is so vast and diverse, so there’s plenty of conversation fodder. Topics for younger teenagers include puberty, reproduction, types of relationships and healthy communication. For older teenagers, you might want to delve a bit deeper into sexual behaviour, STIs, contraception and pregnancy options.

Be honest

It’s completely okay to be embarrassed or nervous! It’s good to just name these feelings up front, by saying something like, 'I know this can be a bit awkward and I’m feeling a bit embarrassed as well, but I love you and this is really important stuff to talk about'.

Start with what they know

If they ask you a question about a particular topic, it’s always useful to start with an opener like, 'That’s a great question! Can you tell me what you already know about that?'. You’ll get an understanding of why it’s important to them, gauge their existing level of knowledge, and (as a bonus!) it will also buy you some time to form your answer!

Use clear language

Use correct terms such as ‘penis’, ‘vagina’, and ‘sexual intercourse’. This can take some practice to feel comfortable, but it’s important to be unambiguous.

Try to be as inclusive as possible. Where you can, try to use terms like ‘partner’ rather than ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’.