Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Parenting To Prevent Sexual Risk

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Parents can help prevent early sexual behavior and risk. Between the ages of 9 and 12 preteens care what their parents think and are listening to what parents have to say. I think this is the best time to develop a positive relationship with your (almost) teen and set up the communication patterns that will prevent early sexual debut.

Here are some concrete things parents of preteens can do to set up habits and patterns that protect youth from early sexuality and other risk behavior:
  • Accept your role as the primary sexuality educator of your child;
  • Learn everything you can so you feel confident and provide books for your child to learn from;
  • Monitor your preteen - as children spend time away from parents and school, always know where they are and require them to call if leaving school or home;
  • Structure "free time" to avoid long periods of unsupervised time;
  • Encourage hobbies, sports & music;
  • Encourage children to set long term goals that include college and careers;
  • Talk about difficult subjects - sexuality, drugs, alcohol, and abuse, making your values clear as well as your behavioral expectations for your children;
  • Share facts about how FEW teens actually participate in risk behaviors to challenge their social norm that may be that "everyone is doing it;"
  • Be a healthy role model in relationships; and finally,
  • Whatever you do, please do not over react to the stories you will start to hear about what "other" kids are doing.
That is if you want to be a parent your kids can talk to! If these patterns start early, they are likely to continue through high school and be applied to romantic and sexual relationships your children will think about or start later on in their lives.

Photo credit: gcoldironjr2003
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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