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Age-Appropriate Sex Ed

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My daughter,five years old, asked me yesterday how she arrived in her mother's belly. She knows how she was born. She knows that before that, she was inside her father. So, now she wants to know the conection from her father to her mother. She knows about our genitals, we bathe all together and she has seen me urinate. Now, how can I explain the sex act with an appropriate answer for her age?

A: At this curious age you can answer her in a direct manner. At this age she will comprehend and absorb only as much information as she can handle. I am somewhat worried about your words "... before that, she was inside her father." I understand what you are attempting with this explanation but she (the baby) wasn't inside you at any time. Your sperm had to enter her mother and join with an egg from her mother's uterus before she was conceived. I think you can tell her something like: You were made when a sperm from daddy's penis got together with an egg from a part inside mommy called her uterus. Daddies put their penises inside mommies' vaginas and then let the sperm come out of their penises to go join up with the mommies' eggs. We call this making love or having sex.

I know you will always include the importance of love and your family's values as you give your kids a healthy sex education.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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