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TALKING OPENLY TO… Children aged 2 to 5
“How did I come out of your tummy?”

“Can I marry my brother?”

“Why haven’t you got a willy?”

The facts

Your child is learning at the speed of light! 

  • The brain is at its most plastic (able to change) at age 2 or 3

  • The brain at this age has up to twice as many synapses as it will in adulthood


That makes the early years the most impressionable time in a child’s life. As you might have noticed, children this age take everything in – and then they “use it or lose it”


It’s around now that “theory of mind” (understanding about different points of view) usually develops. This is the beginning of a child’s approach to relationships

Top tips


Have conversations about sex, love and relationships early and often. Just as with anything else, children learn by repetition

The earlier you use correct words for body parts – like vulva and penis – the more normal it will be for your child. It’s protective. Secrecy and shame often fuel unwanted attitudes and behaviour



If you talk openly early on and continue, that openness will spiral throughout your child’s life. Start out small, basic and simplistic – you’ll end up adding detail along the way. Think of it like a lens that starts out blurry & comes into focus over time

Make your point before your child gets bored. Active young children often give you only a small window of time to get your message across!


Top phrases

“Was that a good touch or a bad touch?”

“You can say: I am the boss of my body!”

“Your body is amazing. It can…”

“Thank you for asking. I like your questions”

More help with ages 2 to 5
HEALTHYCHILDREN.ORG  |  “What’s healthy, what’s not“
Learn what’s “normal’, red-flag behaviour and body-safety teaching tips from this set of lists sourced by the American Academy of Pediatricians  Go to >
NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children)  |  The PANTS Rule
Keep your child safe from unwanted touch. Teach them the vital PANTS acronym, get the guide or even launch the free Amazon Alexa Skill  Go to the PANTS Rule >
Planned parenthood.jpg
PLANNED PARENTHOOD  |  For parents of preschoolers 
This American sex-education and sexual-health nonprofit with a global reach has a dedicated preschoolers section for parents  Go to Planned Parenthood >

Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may also need different support.

If you’re in doubt about your child’s development, you should seek the advice of a professional

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