Ask Sarah Hile

Erections and How Early to Talk to Your Boys About Them

Posted on: February 23, 2009

The topic of erections can be a tough one to tackle.  That being said, good for you for searching for the information to get started!  Kids start to experience things before they even have the right words to ask questions about what is happening.  If your child asks you why something is happening to their body they are ready to know.

You know your child best.  You know what their vocabulary is like.  When you answer a question like “why does my “wee wee” do that” you will want to use words that your child already knows to try to explain.  You can say that it is a natural response, and that sometimes it just happens for no reason. Translated into kid language: it is the way that part of your body responds and it is normal and ok.

If they ask “why” you could say something like, “it is like a muscle and when it stretches it becomes bigger or a different shape”, have him try to make a bicep muscle to compare or show him one of your muscles.  Or if he is able to understand a concept like blood flow you can tell him that it changes in response to blood flow.

It depends on the age of the child as to what is appropriate for an explanation or example.  The previous examples would be best for a 2-5 year old.  As kids get older your response can be more in depth depending on their frame of reference.

Let him know that he is OK and that it will not hurt him.  Some kids say that “it” hurts when they have an erection because they do not have another way to understand what is happening.

Even from a young age kids start to develop body consciousness, and a comfort level with their bodies.  They will get an understanding of what is OK and what is not based on how their care takers respond.  Kids need to hear the biologically appropriate names for their body parts like “penis”.   They can often handle it better and more matter of factually than we can!

There is always the fear that they will go to pre-school or grade school and share this knowledge with classmates leading to teachers or other parents being concerrned, but if we are able to handle this fear we are one step closer to creating an environment for communication that allows for true openness.

Talking to your kids at a young age will encourage them to continue to ask questions as they get older. I get a lot of questions from parents of teenagers about how to talk to their kids about sex.  A lot of them have had very few conversations about the topic up to this point, and their kids do not want to talk or say “yea I know”, or “ewww, that has nothing to do with me”. Younger kids will be more likely to seek and trust their parent’s advice. Develop this relationship early and it will last through the teenage years.

You lay the foundation for good communication about all the tough topics in life when your children are young.  (This does not mean that you can not create great communication with a teenager so do not give up if your kids are older!)  They take their cues from you.  They can see if you are comfortable or not, and believe it or not, your kids will avoid these issues if you are not willing to tackle them.

You show them that you are not afraid of tough topics and that you can handle anything by giving them accurate information when they ask. Even if you do not have the answer off the top of your head tell them that it is an important question, and that you will find out the answer and let them know.  Be brave so that you can have great communication and your child can be confident about and comfortable with their body!

9 Responses to "Erections and How Early to Talk to Your Boys About Them"

It’s interesting to read what women think or think they know about what a little boy thinks about his penis. As a male, perhaps I can shed a bit of insight. By the age of three, little boys pretty much have figured out that certain manipulations of the penis feel good and when it feels good, it become erect. It’s magical. It’s mystical. We like to show it off. Almost all little boys are going to play “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” with peers. Some parents go nuts when they discover it. They shouldn’t. These games are a boy’s first exploration of his sexuality.

Forget trying to use science to explain the penis and its function to any child less than about eight years of age. Young children don’t have the intellectual capacity for abstract thought. Using scientific terms and explanations will only confuse them. Many parents use anatomically correct dolls to explain things to young children. They can be shown a vulva and told that women grow babies inside their bodies. They can be told that their penis is inserted into a woman’s vagina to insert the seed needed to start a baby. And they can understand that their penis becomes erect because it needs to be to be able to be inserted into a vagina. They can also understand that these are things that will happen when they grow up and that these are not for children their age.

Instruct boys to refer to their penis as “penis” in polite company, but expect and accept that he WILL be using the euphemisms with his peers. Accept this and don’t make a big deal out of it.

Wet dreams do not begin when boys reach puberty. They are well into puberty before they begin to produce semen. Wet dreams to not begin until after the onset of ejaculation, which usually occurs between 12 and 13 years of age. The first few ejaculations are bloody and may be a bit painful. Boys should be taught to expect this. Unless they are sheltered, they will learn about masturbation from peers and, in all probability, be masturbating regularly long before they begin to ejaculate. A nine year old entering puberty would be considered precocious. Most boys will enter into puberty between 11 and 12 years. Some may go as early as 10, but that’s not common. Most pediatric endocrinologists would recommending suppressing puberty in a nine year, since the epiphyseal closure that occurs during puberty will shorten adult height if it occurs to early. Most boys are well into puberty by age 15; the process is almost complete, though it really isn’t completely finished until around 18. Parents should also know that pubescent and adolescent boys often engage in homosexual behavior. This does not mean that they are gay. If you discover your boy engaging in same-sex play, do NOT make a big deal out of it. Most boys will abandon same-sex play by age 16 or so, though some may continue into their early 20s.

This post is old, so the author may never read my response, but he is WRONG that a boys first ejaculate will contain blood. It should NOT contain blood and if it does, this is a medical issue that needs to be addressed by a trained physician.

This topic is quite hot in the net at the moment. What do you pay attention to while choosing what to write ?

Liza, I choose what to write based on questions I receive from the web site and from clients. Thank you for your comment!

My son will be 5 at the end of this month. He has come to daddy and I many times to let us know that his “penis is hard.” We tell him its ok, normal, it will go away, just leave it alone, very calmly. Well last night while we were all in bed, he came into my bedroom and said to me, “Mommy, my penis is hard again and it wont go away”, I told him what i usually tell him but he said something totaly different this time. “Mommy, when i see girls on tv, i get hard!” Now its the next day and i am clueless on what to say to him. PLease help!

Holly, Thank you for your question. It is important to validate your son’s feelings. Let him know that it is normal to get erections, and that it is there is a time and a place for exploration. (See my blog on children and masterbation for more details on that subject.) It seems a little early for your son to make the connection between arousal and seeing women on TV, and yet everyone develops at their own pace. Ask him if he has any questions for you, and be willing to answer them in words he can understand. If you don’t have an answer right away let him know it is a great questions, and that you will find out and tell him when you do. You might also want to make sure that he has not found any age innapropriate materials that might be confusing him. Best of luck in your discussions with your child and he is luck to have parents who look for information to help him!

Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

Feel free to share it with others. Kind Regards

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on mobile games.

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