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Talking to Your Kids About Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Talking to Your Child
Supporting Your Child's Well-Being
- Providing good role models—Children can learn from your example and the example of other good role models like older siblings, relatives, and friends.
- Promoting self-confidence—Praise honesty, independence, talent, effort, responsibility, and good decision-making. This will promote self-confidence, which can help your children overcome peer pressure and make good decisions about sex.
- Encouraging positive feelings about sex—People who have positive feelings about sex, their bodies, and masturbation may be more likely to protect themselves from STDs, unintended pregnancy, and sexual abuse. Try to instill these positive feelings in your children.
- Fostering good decision-making skills—Offer options instead of giving orders. By making choices from an early age, children gain practice in making good decisions.
- Developing trust—If your children know that you will be there for them no matter what, they may be more willing to trust you with information about their sexual activity and ask questions. Try to be patient and reasonable to foster this trusting relationship. Respecting your children's privacy, personal space, and individuality can also help gain trust.
- Reassuring your child—Children can feel isolated and depressed going through the teen years. Stress that "being different is normal" and that other teens have similar feelings.
Caring for Your Child's Health
What to Do If Your Child Has an STD
- Make sure your child goes to all their follow-up appointments and takes the recommended medications.
- Encourage your child to tell the doctor if their symptoms worsen or if new symptoms develop, even if they won't tell you.
- Note: Sometimes the symptoms of STDs can be mistaken for other conditions, or the infection may not have any signs at all. Other times, symptoms may not appear for weeks, making it hard to determine a timeline of events. Symptoms can also appear and disappear quickly, then return much later. When symptoms disappear, it does not mean the STD is gone.
- Offer your child emotional support. Reassure your child that having an STD does not make them a bad person. Also, your child may want to talk to a therapist about what they are going through.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America http://www.plannedparenthood.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada http://www.sieccan.org
Sexualityandu.ca—The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sexualityandu.ca
How to talk about sex with your teen. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/dating-sex/Pages/How-to-Talk-About-Sex-With-Your-Teen.aspx. Updated May 11, 2013. Accessed March 6, 2013.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/child-adolescent.html. Updated January 31, 2014. Accessed March 6, 2014.
STDs. Nemours Kid's Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/std/talk%5Fchild%5Fstds.html. Updated August 2011. Accessed March 6, 2014.
Talk to your kids about sex. Health Finder website. Available at: http://www.healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/parenting/healthy-communication-and-relationships/talk-to-your-kids-about-sex. Accessed March 6, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 03/2014
- Update Date: 00/30/2014