Tips to discussing puberty with your Child
It is absolutely normal to have your child ask questions about his/her body especially as he/she grows older and begins to experience changes. Hence as parents, it is your duty to educate your child properly about his/her body and all the changes he/she will experience.
While this assignment can be tasking for parents, starting out early enough will encourage open communication. Parents should also ensure they are ready to teach about body parts with the right language. And trust me, it will get easier to hold conversations around puberty as he/she gets older.
Puberty is a stage of life when the body of a child transitions into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. Puberty is a normal and healthy part of development for girls and boys.
Here are some facts about your child’s changing body:
For most girls, the changes start between eight and 12 years of age, with breast growth and then pubic and underarm hair growth. On average, girls start having their periods when they are around 12 years old. But it’s also perfectly normal for a girl to have her first period anywhere between the ages of 10 and 15 years.
For most boys, puberty starts a bit later, between 10 and 14 years of age. Hair will start growing around the genitals, in the armpits and on the face. As puberty progresses in boys, the penis grows longer and wider, the testicles continue to enlarge and the voice deepens. Nocturnal erections (wet dreams) happen towards the end of these changes, since the male body is maturing sexually and able to produce sperm and semen.
When discussing puberty with your child, work to adopt a tone that is calm, supportive and informative – rather than anxious or hurried. By approaching the topic in a straightforward, factual manner, you help your child understand he/she doesn’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed about the very normal changes happening to his/her body.
Ensure you use actual body part language for genitals. For girls, the genital area around the vagina is called the vulva. For boys, there’s the penis and the testicles.
Keep things short when talking to younger children.
Use day-to-day situations to trigger conversations; don’t wait to have the talk. Children will ask questions, it’s never too early – kids are getting exposed to these topics in school and on TV a lot sooner than you can imagine.
Encourage your child to come to you with his/her questions about body changes and development as they arise. When your child asks a question related to puberty or his/her body, it’s best to keep your answer simple.
While you are discussing body development, use the opportunity to remind your child that his/her private areas are private. Make sure he/she understands that only medical doctors are allowed to examine his/her genitalia. When talking with older tweens and teens, discuss the dangers of posting or sharing photos of their private areas with others via text or online.
Puberty is a normal part of growing up. Let your child know that there isn’t anything wrong with the changes that his body is going through.