Little Talks to Have With Your 16- to 18-Year-Old
Reinforce your child’s self-esteem. Compliment their whole self. Their appearance, intelligence, and talents are all tenuous for them right now. As they are looking more toward the future, they need frequent reminders from you about how amazing you think they are.
Peers are extremely influential at this age. If your teen hasn’t been taught about drug and alcohol use, they may not be equipped to make the right choice when a situation arises. Also help them understand the connection between substance use and risky sexual behaviors.
Have open discussions with your teen about contraception and your values about intercourse. Be sure they understand the full implications of making sexual decisions at this age, the danger of unprotected sex, and the precautions to take in relationships if they choose to be sexually active.
Model for them what a healthy relationship looks like. Educate them about consent – for themselves and others. Teach them the role respect should play in their relationships.
Empower them to set boundaries with the people in their lives. Talk openly about dating and relationships, especially as they transition into adulthood. Make sure they know the risk of sexual assault, especially in their freshman year of college. Help them know how to reduce the risk, how to report, and what to do if they learn about a sexual assault.
Have discussions about how sexuality, body image, and gender roles are portrayed. Include a discussion of media that portrays sex and the dangers that can come from viewing women, men, sex, and relationships in violent, demeaning, or non-consensual ways.
Talking to Your Kids at All Ages
You can talk to your child about healthy sexual development no matter the age. Below we have links to articles about what you should cover in each age range. Always take the time to think through what you’re going to say and remember to keep your child’s maturity in mind. And remember, every time you have a little talk it makes it a little easier to have the next one.
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