As difficult as it may be to teach children about STDs like herpes, it is best to teach them about these things at an early age. The appropriate age may vary depending on the maturity of the child, but usually it will fall somewhere between their ninth and 11th year. By teaching a child about the issues associated with herpes before they start teen dating, you may be able to help minimize the risk that they will become infected at a later point in time. Here are four tips on how to educate children about herpes.
#1 It’s important to remember these are children, so be gentle with them. You don’t have to be overly graphic to get your point across, but you do have to be honest with them. Explain it to them in terms of they can understand, and don’t try to scare them too much. Emphasize to them that having herpes doesn’t make someone a bad person or someone they should be scared of, but it does mean you have to be more careful about skin to skin contact. You want to educate the child – you don’t want to give them nightmares.
#2 Always explain things in terms that they’ll understand. If you’re not sure how to do this consult with a professional before teaching your child about herpes. Chances are they can provide you with materials that guide you through the process. After all, they’ve had to deal with these types of situations a lot more than you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and reach out to someone that has knowledge you don’t have yourself. You want your child to be armed with accurate information, so if you’re not sure of something do your homework rather than providing them with misinformation.
#3 Keep in mind that if you don’t have the conversation with your child about STDs, they’re going to find the information somewhere else. They’ll find out about herpes by talking to a friend, or by watching a movie or TV show. The problem with this is that these can often be uneducated sources of information. If you take control of the situation your child will be much better informed, and if they ever do have the misfortune of becoming infected with herpes they’ll be better able to deal with it.
#4 If you know your child is getting to an age where they’re going to start to ask questions make sure you educate yourself first. Chances are you may never have been told about herpes as a child yourself, so you’re not sure how it should be approached with a child. There’s a lot of information available to you either through medical professionals, health clinics, or reputable sites online. Take advantage of other people’s knowledge so that you’re ready when the time comes. As we’ve suggested above the right time to speak to a child won’t to be the same for everybody. Be aware of the signs your child is starting to be curious, and when they start to ask questions be open and honest with them.
Teaching a child about STDs such as herpes is difficult. You have to treat them gently, but you should be honest with them. Provide them with the information they need so that when they reach their teenage years they’ll be better able to deal with these types of things. You should never ignore the situation, but instead tackle it head-on.
Also read: STD Month: Listen or Lose