It can seem overwhelming to discuss changes in puberty with your child. These 5 tips will help you understand how to help your child during this transition.
Answers to Questions About Puberty You Need to Have As a Parent
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Many parents are unaware and uneasy with the topic of the puberty stages in boys and girls. We may find ourselves frantically doing a Google search for the definition of puberty. But it doesn’t have to be this way when gearing up to have the discussion with your child about changes in puberty.
Although we will not go into depth on the specific changes in puberty that are going to occur to your child, we want to equip you with the essential tips on how to have this important discussion with your child.
Here are 5 tips to help you discuss all of the changes in puberty with your child:
5 Ways to Discuss Changes in Puberty With Your Child
Before you can even think about discussing puberty with your child, you must become educated on the changes that are going to happen during the various puberty stages, in both girls and boys.
There are many educational websites that teach exactly what will happen to your child’s body. This one is a great resource. Don’t worry- all the information you will need is just one google search (or a trip to the local library) away! Researching before is highly recommended. You don’t want to make anything feel strained. Maybe even researching it together can make it less awkward!
One of the major faux-pas parents commit regarding puberty education is thinking that their child will learn everything they need to know about puberty stages at school. Do not make this mistake! You cannot rely on the school to teach your child all of the intricacies of puberty. It is important that you make time to talk with your children about changes in puberty, and let the school play a supportive role.
Overall, it is most important to remember to maintain open communication with your son or daughter. Do not be embarrassed to talk about puberty with them, or they will sense that changes in puberty are something to be embarrassed about.
Let your children know you are always there to talk to them if they have questions or are feeling a bit insecure about what may be happening.
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Correct False Beliefs
Media plays such a big role in the modern-day world and it is important for parents to recognize the potentially damaging effects it might have on pre-pubescent teens. Monitor your child’s usage of electronic devices, and step in if you recognize an issue.
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Children who are exposed to pornography or other graphic media might develop an incorrect expectation or belief regarding changes in puberty. They may view puberty as something shameful, dishonorable, objectifying.
Parents, listen up! You need to make sure you answer their “what is puberty” questions. Help them learn to be confident in their body, even if it is undergoing changes at a different rate than their peers.
Changes in puberty will not hinder your child’s personality or core beliefs if you help them understand what puberty is. Let them know that physical changes don’t alter who they are!
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Since children are exposed to a lot of information regarding puberty on the internet and on TV, it is vital that parents begin talking about puberty at an early age. In fact, some specialists even recommend that by the age of 8, children should be pretty familiar with changes in puberty.
Do not wait for your children to come to you, or you may spend forever waiting. Take advantage of teaching opportunities as they come up. When you do have discussions about changes in puberty, make sure to use age-appropriate language that your child will be able to understand.
Even a toddler might have questions regarding changes in their body. Be open and honestly explain what is happening, while making sure to speak at their level of understanding.
Children will feel more secure and confident when they know what to expect before their bodies begin to change.
Differences Between Boys and Girls
Boys and girls undergo changes in puberty at different paces. Girls tend to mature faster than boys, which might make them feel uncomfortable. Help them understand that these changes are natural and perfectly normal. The boys will soon catch up.
Girls need to be aware of menstruation before they have their first period, so that they know what to expect and can be prepared. No one wants a surprise period during a school day when they have no supplies and are embarrassed to ask for help! Help your daughter choose a bra that fits her well to help her feel more comfortable with the changes happening to her body.
Boys need to be aware of the changes in puberty that they will go through as well. Talk with them about their voices changing, and about how to deal with the higher levels of testosterone they will be experiencing.
It is important for boys and girls to know about the changes that each gender has to go through so that they can be sensitive to one another during this challenging transition.
Don’t Forget About the Emotional Changes
Finally, with so many physical changes, it can be easy to overlook the emotional changes during puberty. Puberty can be a time of insecurity and loneliness. Be a source of constancy for your child.
With so many changes, hormones, and upheaval of their normal routine, they need some sense of consistency. You can be that for your child!
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Believe it or not, we’ve all been through puberty, although it may have been decades in the past. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we had the same question they have lingering in their mind, “What is puberty?” Try to relate to your children and validate the very real emotions they are experiencing. Share your experiences with puberty, and help them know the things you wish you would have known when you were in that stage of life.
Most importantly, spend quality time with your children. Build a loving and trusting relationship with your son or daughter. If you can create a secure attachment with your child, you can be a source of strength and encouragement during changes in puberty.
Have you had this important discussion with your child? Share how it went in the comments (and maybe give other moms and dads some pointers)!
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Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!