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“What are you doing?!


Your 9-year-old walks in on you having sex

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Expert Response #1

Act natural

[It is OK to laugh a little during this situation!]


You caught us having sex. That is something adults do in private.


It is important to be respectful of people’s privacy and knock before opening a closed door.


Do you have any questions about what you saw? We are here to answer your questions honestly

Expert Response #2

Admit embarrassment

Hey! Can you step outside the room for a minute? We were having some private time.


[Go out to talk to them…]


We were making love – and I am so sorry you walked in!*


I’m pretty sure you are feeling weird and embarrassed, which is normal. I am a little embarrassed too. We’ll be more careful to keep this private. If you can knock and wait to be invited in, that would be great


* [They will probably be so grossed out that this may end the conversation]

Amy Lang, founder of Birds & Bees & Kids

Expert Response #3

Emphasise love

We’re showing love for each other. It’s private though, so please go back to your room – I’ll be there in a minute.




Your [dad/mum/partner] and I really care about/love each other. Sometimes adults make each other’s bodies feel good as a way to express those positive feelings and feel close to each other in a special way.


Do you have any questions about that?


Shafia Zaloom, health educator/consultant & author of Sex, Teens & Everything In Between

Whatever you say next, keep these things in mind…​

  • It’s good to check in and see how your child feels about what they saw – and it’s natural for you and/or them to admit that it was an uncomfortable situation

  • You could use this as a teachable moment to talk about sex in the context of love and intimacy. Emphasise that respect, trust and consent are important parts of sex and and healthy relationships. “The main thing is that each person says yes to the activities,” explains Matilda of Split Banana, “and that the activities make them happy and feel good”

  • Some people like to use a euphemism, like “a special cuddle”, to mean sex. But it’s important also to use correct terms and to be as open and honest as you can. As Cath Hakanson of Sex Ed Rescue told us in the blog post Tough questions, quick answers and true-to-life paper dolls: “I don’t use terms like ‘special cuddles’. It’s all about parents using very direct language so that kids can’t misinterpret things”


More help with sex questions…


SCARLETEEN  |  For parents and guardians 

Scarleteen calls itself “sex ed for the real world” and, in responding to teens’ questions, it offers some creative, compassionate and sage advice  Go to Scarleteen >

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AMAZE & AMAZE JR  |  Video advice for parents & cartoons for kids

AMAZE Jr brings parents age-appropriate sex ed resources about talking to kids ages 4-9. Check out AMAZE content for older kids – “More info, less weird”  Go to AMAZE >

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EVERY BODY CURIOUS  |  Watch & learn

Fill the gaps in your 9- to 12-year-old’s sex ed with this series set in a real classroom hosted by the friendly Nadine Thornhill & Eva Bloom   Go to Every Body Curious > 

More Outspoken advice on #Sex&Relationships

The full guide

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Tips for this age

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No shame

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 all need different support.


If you’re in doubt about your child’s emotional, physical or psychological development, please seek the advice of a professional

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