Helping Your Child Through Puberty

As a parent, I’m sure you can remember going through puberty and the awkward times associated with it. While talking about puberty can be uncomfortable for both you and your child, it’s still an important discussion to have. Here are some tips to help you talk to your child about this stage of life:

  • Be proactive. Talk to your child about puberty before it occurs. Since girls can get a period as early as age 9 and boys can start puberty around age 10, it’s important that your child knows what emotional and physical changes will happen during puberty by the time they are eight-years-old.
  • Lean on your child’s pediatrician for help. It’s important to know the subject matter so that you can be confident in your responses to your child. If you need answers to your own questions first or need advice on how to broach the subject, reach out to your child’s pediatrician.
  • Be open and honest. Having this talk may be uncomfortable, but it’s important to not judge or overreact to any questions your child may ask. The more open and honest you are, the more likely your child will come to you with questions and concerns. Be sure to answer his or her questions as honestly and accurately as possible. Going through puberty may make your child feel insecure, so reassure your child that everyone goes through it – even you did.
  • Be specific. Explain to your daughter and son what changes they will experience so they can be prepared. During puberty, your daughter will become more rounded, especially in the legs and hips, her chest will grow and she will begin to menstruate. Your son’s voice will change and become deeper, his muscles will get bigger and facial hair will start to grow. Overall, boys and girls will both experience growth spurts, hair will begin to grow on their bodies, and they will start to sweat more and may develop acne.
  • Know what your child’s teachers are saying. Many kids have a sex education class in school. To be better prepared for any questions your child may ask you, reach out to your teacher to see what the lesson plans cover, and fill in any gaps with your child if needed.
  • Encourage your child to talk to his or her pediatrician. Have your child understand that they should never be embarrassed or afraid to talk to the pediatrician about puberty questions or concerns. Your son or daughter should speak openly and honestly so the provider can give the best course of treatment and advice. Remind your son or daughter that the pediatrician is here to offer help and guidance. If your child doesn’t feel comfortable talking about certain subjects in front of you, offer to leave the room so he or she can talk to the pediatrician alone.
  • It’s not a one-time talk. Initiate conversations about puberty by checking in with your son or daughter to see how they’re doing. And make sure he or she knows you’re available to talk any time.