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Teaching Sexual Health - Birth to 6 year olds

As a parent, you know that understanding your child and their development is one of the most important things you can learn. Follow the links provided to find information about all the developmental milestones- physical, sexual, emotional, cognitive and social- from birth up to 18 years of age. This includes the key topics or ideas your child should know at different ages, and how you can help them with that learning, at every age.

Birth to 2 Years

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Welcome to the world of parenting! Your child will go through many changes in just a couple of years. Your child’s development will follow a pattern. As babies grows, they’re able to do more—recognize people, hold things, sit up, crawl, stand and eventually walk. As they become a toddler, they will have constant energy and  strong feelings. They will also start to question everything around them. Learning about your child at this age will help you to understand their development. Read more about what your child’s going through in this stage of development.

What Your Child Needs Your Help to Learn

In these early years, your child will need your help to understand their emotions and their bodies. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Teach your child that their body is private.
  • Use the correct names for body parts including genitals and reproductive organs: penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries (Knowing the correct names for body parts promotes positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication. It also gives children the language they need to tell a trusted adult if sexual abuse has happened).
  • Make sure your child is able to play with other children their own age often. Your child might not get along with others right away—they’ll learn this with time, practice and the help of you and others. Being able to play with other children will help them to form healthy relationships as they grow older.
  • Help your child understand how gender can be expressed differently. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different as their biological sex.

For more information about teaching sexual health to your children up to two years, visit:https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/parents/information-by-age/birth-to-2-years/

 

3 and 4 Year Olds

Understanding Your Child’s Development

This is the thinking stage. As children enter their preschool years, they know what they like and don’t like. Their emotions tend to be more stable and predictable. Your child’s picking up on what you say and do. Read more about what your child is going through in this stage.

 

What Your Child Needs Your Help to Learn

Children at this age are the easiest to teach, as they are very curious and take in everything they see and hear. Your child will use their imagination to make up their own story if they ’don’t understand the explanation they may have been given. Be ready to answer to their questions again and again, as preschoolers don’t always understand the first time.

If you don’t talk about sexuality, it teaches your child that sexuality is something they shouldn’t talk to you about. To give them the facts about their body parts, what they’re used for and how babies are made, see Reproduction and Pregnancy. 

 

There are some great ways to support healthy sexuality and development. At this stage, children should know:

  • That their body is their own and no one can touch it without their permission—the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch”. This may help children to be more likely to tell a trusted adult if someone is touching them in a way they shouldn’t.
  • The correct names for body parts including genitals and reproductive organs: penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries (Knowing the correct names for body parts promotes positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication. It also gives children the language they need to tell a trusted adult if sexual abuse has happened).
  • How reproduction happens. For example, you could say, “When a sperm joins an egg, a baby grows in the uterus, and is born through the vagina.”
  • Not to pick up things such as used condoms or syringes. Now is a good time to teach them not to pick up anything if they don’t know what it is or if they think it’s dangerous.

For more information about teaching your 3-4 year old about sexual health, visit: https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/parents/information-by-age/3-and-4-year-olds/

 

5 and 6 Year Olds

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Your child is starting to form their own identity and their understanding of how they fit into the world. Talking about sexual health and sexuality together now will help to start the conversation and keep it going as your child gets older. Read more about what your child is going through in this stage.

What Your Child Needs Your Help to Learn

Your child will likely understand more about body parts and what they do, but still may not know all the facts. For example, at this age children often think that girls have one opening for urine and feces, and that what girls eat goes into the same place as the baby grows. It helps to use simple and clear explanations for your child—make sure to give the facts and use the correct terms.

If you don’t talk about sexuality, it teaches your child that sexuality is something they shouldn’t talk about with you. They’re more likely to talk to and believe any story they hear from others. Give them the facts about their body parts, what they’re used for and how babies are made.

There are some great ways to encourage healthy sexuality and development. At this stage, children should know:

  • That their body is their own and no one can touch it without their permission—the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch”. This may help children to be more likely to tell a trusted adult if someone is touching them in a way they shouldn’t.
  • The correct names for body parts including genitals and reproductive organs: penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries (Knowing the correct names for body parts promotes positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication. It also gives children the language they need to tell a trusted adult if sexual abuse has happened).
  • Other body parts and body functions: urine, stool, bladder and urethra.
  • How reproduction happens. For example, you could say, “When a sperm joins an egg, a baby grows in the uterus, and is born through the vagina.”
  • Basic information about body changes during puberty.
  • Not to pick up things such as used condoms or syringes. Now is a good time to teach them not to pick up anything if they don’t know what it is or if they think it’s dangerous.

For more information about teaching your 5-6 year old about sexual health, visit: https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/parents/information-by-age/5-and-6-year-olds/

 

 

Top 5 Ways to Cheer Up the Lonely Days - Edmonton Public Library

Written by Hilary Kirkpatrick, EPL Outreach Worker

As a social worker for the Edmonton Public Library, I know the importance of community building and making connections for those who are feeling lonely. Having a supportive network of people and meaningful connections can give us the boost we need to feel better about ourselves and have a positive outlook on life. At EPL, there are programs specifically designed to meet the needs and interests of all EPL customers, which help bring people in the community together.

Here are the top 5 ways to utilize your local library to help alleviate loneliness:

1.     EPL Book Clubs – Book clubs offer a space where you can meet new people with similar interests (hello, fellow avid readers!) and discuss the means and motives of your favourite literary characters. Friendships are sure to blossom over a cup of tea and a wonderful book! 

2.       Baby Lap Time and Sing, Sign, Laugh and Learn Programs – New parents are at times isolated by the needs of their new little family member, and early literacy programs can provide the opportunity to make a connection for parents while babies learn through play, song and story. These interactive, free, drop-in programs are a great opportunity to connect with other new parents and give your little one a head-start.

3.       Makerspace Programs – Did you know that expressing yourself creatively in a way that is meaningful to you can help you combat loneliness? EPL Makerspace programs offers sound-booths to record a song, binding and printing services for your writing, or the opportunity to create a mini-movie with the green screen! Make friends and enjoy a fun project all at the same time!

4.       Adult Programs – Find ways to socialize based on what interest you such as learning a new hobby at the library: sewing class, adult colouring, film series, traditional arts and crafts, and more! Hobbies are a great way to meet new people, and to help yourself get out of the house. If you are feeling left out of the community because of a language barrier, EPL can help you improve your English conversations skills. We host conversation circles for English language learners that are set at your pace.

5.       Assistive Services - If you are experiencing a significant barrier or are physically unable to leave your home or a have disability, EPL provides home service where you live, whether that's an extended care facility, a seniors' lodge or your own home. We also offer specialized computers and assistive technology. If you are far away from family across the world, EPL staff can show you how to use email and Skype with your far away family members!

With EPL, connection is always possible. Let’s work together to combat loneliness and connect with our community and loved ones. A step towards visiting your local public library is a step towards ending loneliness! https://www.epl.ca/

What Teens Can Do To Keep Busy This Summer

by Bronwyn Hartman - Edmonton Public Library

 

1. Make something great: Our Makerspace has everything teens need for their next creation, including 3D printers, sound booths, a vinyl cutter and more. Encourage teens to drop by the library and get creative!

2. Find the next great read: Teens can check out our Staff Picks, talk to staff for recommendations, access eBooks and magazines through our digital collection, or just come and browse our teen section. They can also participate in one of our Summer Starts Here events happening at branches throughout the city.

3. Get in the game: Teens have a love for gaming and can join us for our many gaming programs: Minecraft, retro gaming and even old-school board games!

4. Learn something new: Our non-fiction collection and online resources have everything teens need to learn something new - from a new language, to photo editing, to digital design and more.

5. Come and hang out: On hot summer days the library is an even a cooler place to hang out! With study spaces, meeting rooms, computers and more, teens can come and lounge in an air conditioned space with us at any of our branches.

Be in the know with EPL! Sign up for EPL eNewsletter to learn more about programs and events for teens and the whole family!

 

For more information about Edmonton Public Library and their awesome programs, visit: https://www.epl.ca/blogs/post/what-teens-can-do-to-keep-busy-this-summer/

9 Steps to Unplug Kids from Technology This Summer and Beyond

July 4th, 2014

By Cris Rowan

1. BECOME INFORMED regarding the effects of technology on child development and learning.

Technology overuse is related to child attention problems, poor academics, aggression, family conflict, impaired sleep, developmental delays, attachment disorders, impaired body image, obesity and early sexuality. The signs of technology addiction are tolerance, withdrawal, unintended use, persistent desire, time spent, displacement of other activities, and continued use. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours per day.

2. DISCONNECT YOURSELF – Be available for your children!

As child technology use patterns that of their parents, technology addicted children are likely to live in a high technology usage household. Parents need to determine how much technology is too much, and set limits. Parents should then model balancing technology use with other activities. Schools could sponsor a Tech Unplug week where classrooms compete to reduce technology use in home and school, or have one day per week with NO TECH.

3. RECONNECT - Designate "sacred time" with your children.

The underlying causal factor for addiction is fear of human connection or "social anxiety", and results from poor parent/child attachment formation. Parents and teachers might benefit from exploring past experiences of attachment with their own parents, and think about how this experience may have affected how they relate to their own child or students. Designation of "sacred time" in the day with no technology (meals, in the car, before bedtime, and holidays) is a first start toward reconnecting with your children.

4. EXPLORE ALTERNATIVES to technology as a class or family.

Not all children are interested in or value the same activities as adults. Fostering a tolerance for differences and respecting individual preferences can go a long way toward promoting children’s motivation to unplug.

5. ENHANCE SKILLS PRIOR to unplugging your children.

Children with technology addictions have poorly developed skills in other areas. Self-identity, social skill, relationship to nature, and sense of spirit, are often disconnected in children who overuse tech. Drastic or sudden reduction in technology with a child who has an addiction, will result in chaos at school and home, as the child is now alienated from what has become their whole meaning for living. Help build performance skills by exposing children to alternate activities that are "just right challenge", not too hard, not too easy, to build skill.

6. ENHANCE DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING through engagement in the four critical factors for child development - movement, touch, human connection, and nature.

Children need to rough and tumble play 2-3 hours per day, and spend time connecting with their parents, teachers and other children, in order to achieve optimal physical and mental health. Rough and tumble play promotes adequate sensory and motor development of the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and attachment systems needed for achieving literacy in printing, reading and math, as well as paying attention and learning.

7. ADDRESS PERCEPTIONS OF SAFETY – Go Outside! Go Green!

Parents’ perceptions of safety correlate with child time indoors in front of TV, internet, and video games e.g. if a parent perceives the world as unsafe, that child will spend more time indoors using technology. Fear of litigation in schools and communities, has drastically changed playgrounds, making them boring and unchallenging for most children. Outdoor rough and tumble play is a biological need for children, and has been proven to significantly reduce problematic behaviors, aggression, and attention deficit, as well as improve depression and anxiety.

8. CREATE INDIVIDUAL ROLES and foster independence.

50 years ago, children had family jobs and chores that if were not performed, threatened the very sustainability of the family. While life was tough, children had a strong sense of who they were, and their purpose in the family. Children benefit from knowing their role in the big picture, and self-esteem comes from being independently productive. Realistic challenges and expectations by parents and teachers promote defined roles for children, and provide a structure where they can begin to try out new skills. When faced with a task that is perceived to be beyond a child’s skill level, frustration and poor self-esteem will be the result.

9. SCHEDULE BALANCE between technology use and activities.

Follow the Zone’in Concept of an hour of ‘energy in’ (technology use) equals an hour of ‘energy out’ (movement, touch, connection, and nature). Make up a weekly schedule with designated time for technology balanced with time for healthy activity. When beginning the Tech Unplug, it’s important to alternate between familiar, predictable, structured activities and novel activities. The parent and teacher’s job is to skillfully dance the child between predictability and novelty during the initial unplug period. Children can’t do what they haven’t been taught, so need to teach children how to explore new activities, while providing predictable structure and consistency.

Cris Rowan is an occupational therapist and child development expert living in Sechelt, British Columbia. She is the founder of Zone'In Inc.For more information, visit movingtolearn.ca.

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