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What's A Penis? And Other Questions Your Young One Might Ask...

06/14/2012 03:39 EDT | Updated 08/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Oh birds and the bees... when the kids start asking questions about sexuality, how do you respond?

How much or how little does a parent actually explain to their younger kids when they're asked the more challenging questions?

After researching what the experts have to say about some of the more common questions kids ask, here are some good answers to tell your child about sexuality:

Where do babies come from?

Sooner or later, this question will pop up. How do you respond? The stork? God?

Keep you answer simple and honest -- no need to get into major details. One way is to explain is by saying, "you were made in Mommy's tummy (or uterus, to be correct) and that's where you grew until you were ready to be born."

If your child isn't satisfied with that answer, you can explain that Daddy's sperm joins Mommy's egg and then a baby begins to grow. When your child is old enough to ask for more specifics, then he/she will be ready to hear more details.

What is this called?

Most experts agree that it's best to use the correct anatomical names, not nicknames. Using the proper words will help the child learn to use the words in a direct manner, also helping children feel more comfortable talking about sexual topics without embarrassment. The correct names should be given for both male and female parts; one without the other would be unfair or could send the wrong message.

When your child asks why boys and girls are different, it's okay to simply explain that boys have penises and girls have vaginas. You can say that nature or God (depending on your beliefs) made boys and girls that way.

Point out that each and every person is unique. Susanne Ayers Denham, a developmental psychologist, says the same way you explain that Daddy's nose is smaller than Mommy's, for example, boys' private parts look different from girls'. If you keep the explanation simple, and don't act embarrassed, your child won't be either.

What are Mommy and Daddy doing?

Uh oh, you've been caught! If your child walks in on you and your spouse having sex, talk to him/her about it. Calmly ask the kids to leave the room for a moment.

First determine how much the child actually saw. If it wasn't much, you may just explain that Mommy and Daddy were kissing and hugging.

Ask them if they want to know what was happening. If they do, explain that it's natural and normal, loving and safe. Be simple and honest when explaining what sex is, says Dr. Anthony Wolf, psychologist and parenting author. You can say, "Sex is something that adults do. It's a way of making babies, and it's something that they enjoy doing."

If your child seems worried or afraid, it is important for you to explain that you were not being hurt. If they don't care to know, don't press the issue and count your lucky stars!

Read more of Maria's articles on amotherworld.com