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Relationships and Sex Education at home supports your child to have healthy relationships. Learn about how to support your child at home as they grow up.
School RSE focusses on the facts, the law and the expectations of the school and wider community. It provides an opportunity to discuss issues in a depersonalised way which keeps everyone in the classroom safe whatever their beliefs or experience.
RSE at home is a real opportunity to talk about your family’s values and beliefs, and to use examples from your own family and people you know to talk about health and relationships.
Explore your feelings around sex and relationships. Use the suggested resources to help you and don’t worry about admitting it to your child if you feel embarrassed about it – you could say something like “You know, I’m uncomfortable talking about sex because growing up no one ever talked about it to me. But I want us to be able to talk about anything, including sex, so please come to me if you have any questions. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out.” Discuss your own values around sex and relationships with your child. After all you are one of the main role models in your child’s life and your values will have an influence on their own developing values.
The earlier the better – even very young children need to make sense of healthy relationships, friendships and respect. You don’t need to talk about sexual relationships until they start asking questions or you feel they are ready, but be aware at some point during their early years they will probably want to know how babies are made and about the differences between male and female bodies of both adults and children their age.
Brook’s website, Brook Learn, NSPCC, Young Minds, PSHE Association. Another way to do this is to buy or borrow books you like the look for you and/or your children to read.
Maybe your child’s school has books they can recommend or lend to kickstart conversations or provide reliable information.
Trying to welcome questions, even if you feel embarrassed in the moment, and being enthusiastic about curiosity will encourage children to ask in future.
Answer questions truthfully, honestly and appropriately to their age. You could consider “if they’re old enough to ask the question, they’re old enough to hear the answer” but be careful – they may not actually require the detailed explanation you may be about to launch into! A top tip would be to ask “well, what do you think?” as a way to establish the level of answer they require and to correct any misunderstandings. Try to use the correct terminology and names for body parts.
You don’t have to sit down and have a single, one-off “sex talk” that can be embarrassing for everybody. Instead deal with questions as they arise. You could try having a chat about sex and relationships when you are in the car, or on a walk or while watching TV if something comes up – that way it reduces the pressure on both parent and child of having the “big scary sex talk”. You could ask what they think or feel about something they’ve just seen or experienced e.g. your cat has had kittens or a relative is getting married. Try to anticipate the next stage of development such as talking to children before they experience puberty – this will help them to feel prepared.
When your child becomes a teenager they may be under increasing pressures to act a certain way. Wherever possible focus on the positives with your child, listen to them and respect them. Acknowledge their viewpoint and the pressures that they face. Show that you respect your child as a person by respecting their privacy.
Your child is probably growing up in a very different world to the one you grew up in. Sexualised content is made easily accessible via the media, from billboards to magazines to the internet and TV. Be aware of the content they are consuming and use it to spark conversation. Take an active role in their relationships and sex education and work with the school to enhance their learning. The best thing you can do is to provide a safe space so that your child feels comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns without feeling judged, ignored or embarrassed.
If your child is starting to ask questions about RSE topics and you don’t have the answers, you can search our free, high-quality resources to help you. (Note: our resources can be filtered by topic, not by age so please use them when you feel they are relevant for your child)
Brook position statements outline our beliefs, our vision for young people and our approach, all supported by evidence and useful resources.
Brook is commissioned in certain areas to provide FREE support for parents around RSE. Brook expert staff use their knowledge and experience to give you support on how to address potentially tricky topics at home.
These are only available in three areas currently, click the areas below to find out more.
As the government reviews its guidance of Relationships, Sex and Health Education we need more people to stand up for RSHE that is high-quality, effective, inclusive and empowers children and young people to thrive.
RSE: The Evidence
RSE: At school