Q: [Toddler] My toddler just asked me an embarrassing question. What should I do?
A: Whether the question was, “Where did I come from?” or “Why does Daddy pee different from Mommy?” a parent’s worst fear is that they’ll be caught off guard and totally tongue-tied when their toddler asks a challenging question. (Or that it will happen loudly and in public!)
If you’ve just found yourself in this situation, take a breath. First, know that what’s come out of your toddler’s mouth may be different than what you’re imagining, so start by clarifying the question. You might think they want to know where babies come from, but really what they want to know is from which city. Can you imagine having the entire “talk” when all they really wanted was “Irvine”?
Second, check your body language. A parent’s discomfort will be reflected in their body language. Making sure your body language conveys openness could make a world of difference in your child coming to you again in the future.
Next, do your best to answer the question honestly. Share the facts and ask questions throughout to make sure they understand. If your child’s attention span is normal for a toddler, the conversation may not last very long!
Not sure how to answer honestly? Or, not in a place that works for this conversation? Good news! You don’t have to answer immediately. You can always tell your child that their question is important, and that you’ll answer them when you’re alone at home. (Key tip: Remember to actually get back to them!)
Finally, many parents in my classes feel like they never got the information or parent connection they needed when they were younger. Take this opportunity to find ways to deal with the issues in your past, so they don’t affect your relationship.
Don’t forget: You are not alone. You can turn to other parents for insight and remember there are books and experts (like me) who can provide support and guidance.
Leslie Dixon spent 25 years as a school nurse teaching family life, health science and sex education. She founded the Birds & Bees Connection in 2002 to offer tools, information and connections, empowering parents to be a positive and engaged presence in their children’s lives. birdsnbeesconnection.com