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When And How To Teach Your Kids About Human Anatomy

April 2, 2013

Guest Post by: Steven Madison

Parenting can be one of life’s greatest joys. The look on a young girl’s face when she reads her favorite book or the excitement felt by a little boy catching his first football – small moments like these can make a terrible day into one of the best ever. And there is no doubt that having kids around means that there is never a shortage of surprises. As the saying goes, “kids say the darnest things.” You never know when a child is going to impress you or embarrass you!

Kids also have a natural curiosity. This natural curiosity can lead to great, once-in-a-lifetime learning experiences. But very often, this natural curiosity leads to awkward or uncomfortable situations. Parenting, though, means confronting these challenges head on, and not running away from them. Eventually your son or daughter is going to ask you about human anatomy, though the phrasing of the question may vary from one kid to another. Instead of getting nervous and flustered, be prepared to have the conversation. Below are a few pointers for some guidance.

First of all, parents should remember that they have actually been teaching their children about the human body since the child was very young. One of the first things parents teach their kids about is the parts of their face – the nose, the ears, the mouth, and the eyes. Before they learn to talk, many kids can already accurately point to these parts. From there, the children go on to learn about other parts of the human body. Once they have the face mastered, they learn to point to their arms, their feet, their bellies, and their backs.

As they get older, they will start to notice other parts of their bodies. This inquisitiveness is totally natural and normal. These days, with your child being exposed to so many images of the human body – on television, in magazines, on phones, and on billboards – it is more important than ever to teach your sons and daughters about their bodies. With eating disorders becoming more common among young men and you women alike, you need to make sure your child has a positive body image. And that means knowing about what a healthy body looks like.

Make sure you instill healthy living habits into your children from a young age. Teach them about what makes a food healthy – that means not just teaching them to eat their vegetables but explaining, for example, that carrots have beta-carotene, which improves their eyesight. Get your kids involved in sports from a young age and teach them why exercise is healthy. Point out the muscles being exercised when they are old enough to understand.

One of the most important things to understand is that you should always answer your child’s questions honestly, while also being sure to keep the information age appropriate. Don’t give body parts silly nicknames, use the real terms. But also be sure to communicate on their level.

If you have the equipment or are willing to go out and buy it, anatomical models can make teaching your kids about anatomy a lot easier and clearer. Children learn better when they have visual and tactile explanations. The best kinds are the ones that can be taken apart and put back together but that isn’t completely necessary. You can always find pictures on the Internet and print them out, preferably in color.

And don’t shy away from making a game out of it! The popular throwback board game “Operation” is just as fun today as it was twenty years ago! And “Twister” is another great option for a fun game that uses and teaches about the body. If your kids like to write poems, they can write some about their bodies. Or you can always sing some songs – the Hokey Pokey is a classic song that teaches body parts. And the Internet is just full of great websites and games, with something for every age group.

The most important thing to teach your kids when it comes to the human body, though, is that theirs is beautiful. Make sure you are always open and available for all of their questions. Be open and honest with them.

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About the writer: Steven Madison is a health and wellness writer.  Steven has been writing about health and wellness topics for nearly a decade and has a master’s degree in physiology.  Steven is also active on Google +.  
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