Helpful hints/ideas to help children and young people learn about growing up ...continued
Resources and tools
- Address/tackle the topics through a range of resources and tools and sources rather than relying on just one method, to reinforce the learning. Match the medium to the child (if they like books/videos find ones on these topics).
- There are many resources you can use; many have been developed including some specifically for children with disabilities.
- Having books for children to read or to be read to which match their developmental status e.g. if your child likes cartoons, or visual materials, or diagrams, or pictures, or dolls or figures – seek out resources that use these.
- Watch a video together and start conversations based on what is happening in the video
- Find out about programs being run on developmental changes, sexuality, safety which help children and young people learn how to talk about and normalise these topics. These may be special programs run for children with disabilities, for parents, or for families together.
- There are a large number of such programs and courses available in Victoria – some are run through schools, by specialist services such as Family Planning Victoria, some by individual specialists.
People are important resources
- There are people in your child’s life that can be a resource – members of their ‘circles of trust.’ Siblings can be a resource – other children, at school, in their neighbourhood, conversations with other people they trust and have regular contact with e.g. extended family members, teacher’s aides,
- People in their network can all assist in supporting children learning about their development and feeling comfortable that this is a topic that can be openly discussed and enjoyed, reinforcing the messages that you as a parent have established.
- Your attitude to these topics is important. Children do pick up whether this is a topic that feels okay to discuss. Your child may sense this and choose not to explore or try new things for fear of upsetting you.
Parents receiving support & education
- You may need some coaching/support to tackle this area. Good for you for identifying that.
- There are many big and hard issues to be addressed e.g. the use of contraception, whether to assist young people to have sex, whether it is okay for them to watch porn. These are areas that will need to be addressed and it is important that you have discussed this as parents and sought information from others and done this in advance of when the situation will need to be addressed.
- Of course they are also hard topics to think about for all children. It is also important that you are educated about what your child needs to know.
- Don’t be afraid if you get a bit stuck at different points, to ask questions of others about how to proceed, you don’t know what you don’t know – that’s okay. It will be one step forward and two steps back but you are very used to that rhythm.
- There are lots of ways of accessing and receiving support.
- Joining a parents group, raising the topic in a parents group you attend, attending a special program, training, talking to other parents, talking to older children about what they found helpful, reading, checking out the wide range of resources that are available, continually checking in with the other important adults in your child’s life, talking to professionals who know them.
- Your child may also need some additional coaching/support to tackle this area.
- There are many programs and courses now available to support children and young people learn about the changes happening in their lives – find out about that and encourage your child to attend and discuss it with them. Please see our Resources section for further details.
- Turn your fears into strategies. Many parents are fearful that their child might harass others; that boys will misunderstand cues, and girls will be naive – over trusting. If that is your concern make sure that these areas are included in the learning provided to children on these topics.
Some final thoughts from parents
- ‘These issues will always demand our utmost attention’ throughout all the stages of a child and young person and young adults’ life – it is beginning a conversation that will continue but take different forms at different stages in the child’s life.
- As much as possible, ‘don’t create fear, create facts’ and
- ‘Don’t be afraid to have these talks, don’t avoid or put it off.’