Your child having a ‘special friend’ is a wonderful opportunity for a teachable moment.
You can more in this article, about what a teachable moment is.
Regardless of their age, if your child starts to talk about a friend (or about themselves) having a boyfriend or girlfriend, this is a great opportunity to start talking about what friendships and what they can mean.
Watch the video below to find out how you can turn this topic into a teachable moment.
How can we turn our kid’s ‘special friend’ into a teachable moment.
Hi, I’m Cath Hak from Sex Ed Rescue and your kid having a special friend is one of those teachable moments. In life there are countless opportunities that we can use to talk about sex education with our kids, and when they go into school, about four to seven-years-old, they might start talking about a special friend.
They might talk about someone who they have a crush on, or even a boyfriend or girlfriend. They could even be bringing home love letters. My son came home with a love letter the other day and he’s almost nine-years-old.
So, how do you turn these into a teachable moment? There are plenty of different ways that you can go about this. One way is that you can talk about how having a special friend is something for grownups and when they’re older they could have a special friend then. It’s also that opportunity to ask what they think is love, what they think a relationship is, and what does it mean to date someone. It can also remind you to watch what they’re looking at or taking in.
I remember when my daughter was about four or five, she liked a boy. His name was Cullum [00:01:44] and she walked around the house going, ‘Oh Cullum, oh Cullum!’ As she did this she’d sigh, and I wanted to know what was going on. So, I asked who Cullum was and she said he was her special friend and how she loved him. I just thought, ‘My God, what do I say? How do I deal with this?’
Later, when I caught up with some of my friends at the park, I told them about what had happened. One of them turns around and asked if she’s been watching anything recently. I said, ‘Well, she’s been obsessed with Beauty and the Beast,’ and she said, ‘Of course, they walk around the movie going, ‘Oh Beast, oh Beast!’’ She pointed out my daughter was just role-playing what she’s seen in TV and then the penny dropped. So then, I had a great conversation with my daughter about what she saw in movies and TVs weren’t real.
But, kids pick up on everything. They might have an older brother or sister, or they might hear something on TV, or see couples holding hands. Special friends are just a wonderful opportunity to talk about what these things are.
We can talk about the fact that sometimes, we do have a friend that’s more special. Some kids are more aware of relationships than others, though. For them, it’s not something that they’re copying but they’re more so aware that they do like someone more than someone else.
Now, is it something to worry about, who knows? Whether or not it is, I think it’s more important to focus on how we respond to this. It’s more about going, ‘Yeah, that’s great. But how about we save those sorts of relationships or friendships for when you’re older?’ This is because when we talk about this stuff with kids, it’s all about guiding them and making sure they’re not having a relationship that can lead into something sexual. If they say, ‘I’ve got a special friend,’ you should ask them what they think it means.
I say that sort of stuff to my daughter who is twelve now. She comes home from high school and says, ‘Oh, all the girls have boyfriends.’ And I’ll ask, ‘Okay, so what does that mean?’ We talk about what that relationship means for her friend which is really good to unpack.
The ‘special friend’ is something that could happen when they’re little, three or four, or it could happen when they’re taller than you. But it’s just that opportunity to talk about what a special friend means and to share stories about what it was like for you as a kid and how you dealt with it.
Okay, I hope that helps. Cheers.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.