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While it might be an awkward topic for your child and one that they'd really rather not talk about with you, it's important that they learn about sex and the facts of life from a trusted source, instead of in the playground or online. Knowing where to start is often the hardest part of talking to children about sex but sticking to need-to-know information is the best way to go, says relationship counsellor and sex therapist at RelateAmmanda Major. I think children are naturally curious a lot of the time so they are going to come home with queries and questions or observations.

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Not every parent finds it easy to talk with their child about this topic and so you know, perhaps giving a bit of thought beforehand if you know your child is having these lessons at school and thinking about how you might approach the questions. Do I not want to talk about it because my own relationship is not what I hoped it was? Put yourself in their shoes. As Ammanda says, think about how you were told about sex. Was it informative? Or was it an uncomfortable sit down with a parent over the dinner table?

Talking openly and giving them accurate information will take away the mystery and confusion around sex and help them make safer, healthier choices throughout their life.

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Just have a chat. Your teenager may run a mile. Instead, just mention things when they pop into your head. You could talk about relationships on TV soaps, news stories about teenage pregnancy, and use cues to bring up difficult subjects such as sexual abuse or masturbation. What do they know already? Help them through puberty. This can be a scary and confusing time for your.

Their body will be starting to change as they are developing, with pubic hair growing and hormones kicking in.

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The average age is 12 to 14 in girls and 13 to 15 in boys, but future teens as young as nine or younger are now starting their periods. Teach respect. Explain your values. What about sexual feelings? Too embarrassed? They probably will be too. Give them the facts. That could be either by yourself or even through organisations such as Brookwhich offer confidential advice for youngsters under the age of 25 on contraception and sex. Getting intimate? There are many ways that your teenager may become intimate without having full-blown sex.

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Their first kiss is even an important stage in their sexual development, so try to help them by explaining that they can still show their emotions and experiment without having sex. What about love? Explain that the best setting for sex is in a loving, or at least equally respectful, relationship.

Most young people have sex in a lasting relationship. Everything should stop then and there.

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Tell them about the law. They could be arrested for having sex with an underage partner, or if they are underage themselves and their partner is over 16, their partner could be in trouble with the law. Try to get them to open up about their feelings. How do they feel about them? Are they just good mates or do they have stronger feelings? Have they been intimate with each other? What if they fall in love? Young love can be very painful, but a really important learning curve for your. Try to get to know their partner and include them in your family life.

Invite them around for dinner, chat to them too. Help keep them stay safe. What about contraception? Of course, unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy too, so talk to your youngster about the dangers and contraceptive choices. Offer to go with your teenager to your local sexual health clinic or doctor to talk about contraception. What about pregnancy? Naturally talking to children about practicing safe sex is the best way to avoid this.

But if it does happen, be sure to stay calm and support your child — no matter their role in it as best as you can. Take your child to see your GP, as they will be able to confirm the pregnancy and offer advice. Of course, you can give advice and support, but your child and potentially their partner as well Running out of sex Hays ideas to make their own minds up on what to do about the pregnancy. Children become curious about the birds and the bees at different ages, depending on their own development, who they spend time with and what is spoken about both inside and outside the home.

Alternatively, you can offer them information yourself from one of the many great sex education and puberty books out there. For those not quite ready for 'the talk' yet, but are maybe hearing things from friends in the playground and you want them to have the right information, there's this picture book by Molly Potter. Suitable for all body types, it covers the differences between girls and boys' bodies and the journey into adulthood with informative illustrations along the way. There's also a section at the back with useful advice for parents for chatting about these topics.

Parents say: "I read this to my nearly 7yr old daughter and it was just the right level, I cringed reading it aloud but to her it was very interesting and informative! A great tool for sitting together with and going through 'the birds and the bees' talk. Thoroughly recommend. This book is one of a duo, teaching children mainly about puberty but also touching on the need-to-knows of sex and relationships. It's the ideal book if you're looking to give boys some knowledge on the issues, so they don't believe everything they hear in the playground, but they're not quite ready for anything too explicit.

Parents have said: "I have bought two of these one each for my nearly 10 year olds. They had started asking questions and some aspects are being covered in school. Exactly the same as the boys' one but with all the things that girls need to know about puberty and just the essentials about sex. Perfect for girls who are maybe just beginning to learn about these things at school and might have questions they don't want to ask parents.

Parents say: "Absolutely brilliant book. I learnt a lot from this book and so did she!

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The sex is very gentle and actually incredibly informative. There is no detail that is unnecessary and no awkward pictures to accompany it. Good preparation for children in Year 6 who will learn about sexual education. If your looking for something that covers the very basics and gives your child an introduction into the world of sex and intimate relationships, then this could be the book for them.

How to talk to your child about sex – with tips from an relationships expert and books to help you out

While it certainly doesn't go into huge amounts of detail, it will answer their questions and open up the dialogue for more conversations in the future. Set out in a dictionary format, it's easily accessible and quick to read - meaning kids can dip in and out of it when they want an answer. Parents say: "It's a good book for covering basics. I bought it for my son because he had a lot of questions and I want to talk openly and honestly about these important issues. This book supports the very basics of it, but it does fall short in places sadly.

I felt that their could have been more in depth information in many areas. If you're looking for something that gives younger kids ie years of age, a bit of insight, this would be helpful as a starting point. It's quite simplistic in it's approach - no graphic photographs or complex information - but also plenty of cross referencing and sources for further information. My sons are happy to dip into this and formulate questions if necessary - a good resource but no replacement for talking of course.

For those a little older and perhaps entering into the world of social media, whether they're supposed to or not, Dr Christian's guide to 'growing up online' is a great companion. Parents say:"This little gem is an absolute find! It covers all the tech lingo and explains scenarios in a way that kids and teens can easily digest. It is well laid out and catchy but never preachy.

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There is a wealth of direction for kids in tricky situations that I know I would struggle to guide them on. And it may be that they would prefer to read in a book rather than discuss.

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So pleased I stumbled upon it-thank you! Taking on the nitty gritty in a way that's informative and not sensationalised, it's the book to go to when your child needs to know more about the world around them. Parents say: "I bought this book for my teenage daughter as I wanted an honest and accessible book that would give her a good overview on sex and counter-act the porn influenced ideas of sex that her generation is saturated with.

I read the book myself and it is funny, accessible and very well written. All types of sex are openly discussed and the author's own experiences are shared. This book is like having that older sister or cousin you can turn to for advice.

My daughter uses it to dip in and out of rather than reading it cover to cover. Highly recommended.

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