How to Talk to a Child About Erections

Talking to a child about erections can be an awkward aspect of explaining puberty to a child, and not all parents seek out opportunities to start this conversation. Although Kids Health reports that boys typically begin puberty later than girls, they might begin to have erections or wet dreams before their bodies begin to look different. It will be less confusing for your son if he understands these occurrences before he experiences them.

A father taking a walk with his son by the shore. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Step 1

Discuss the basics of puberty. Tell your son that as he grows, his penis and testicles will increase in size, his voice will deepen, his muscles will develop, and he will grow facial and pubic hair. Explain that he will also start to have erections. The Mayo Clinic advises telling your son that while the penis is soft most of the time, it sometimes becomes hard and stands up. Tell him that erections might occur in his sleep, in response to the penis being touched, or at random times during the day.

Step 2

Explain wet dreams. Tell your son that if he gets an erection in his sleep, he might also have a wet dream, which means he will ejaculate in his sleep. Kids Health suggests reminding your son that this is perfectly normal, and that almost all boys experience wet dreams and erections while going through puberty. Depending on your child's age, you might need to tackle an entire sex talk during this conversation.

Step 3

Prepare to answer questions. Kids Health says boys often tend to express concerns about penis size, particularly in terms of whether their size is "normal." Remind your son that he is still growing, and that his penis will likely continue to develop. Assure him that penises range in size and that there's not one "normal" size.

Step 4

Correct any misconceptions. If you haven't talked to your son about puberty and sex before, he might have some erroneous notions about puberty and sex in general, according to the Mayo Clinic. Be open to discussing these issues as needed. Above all, assure him that everything that's happening to him is normal, and that he doesn't need to feel embarrassed.


Assure your son that while touching his erect penis is normal, this should be a private activity, the Mayo Clinic advises. This encourages healthy boundaries.

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