Puberty. This is not a comfortable topic for many parents to discuss with their children. Talking about bodily changes and where babies come from is an admittance that the child is growing up and making a shift in the direction of adulthood, which is scary. According to kidshealth.org, kids should be aware of the upcoming changes their bodies will experience by age eight. The article does admit that the age seems young, but it also addresses that the kids need to be aware of what’s going to happen before it actually happens. It also touches on the fact that with the availability of technology, your child could be getting wrong information that you need to correct or make clear prior to their total panic or experience with the wrong information.
Some of you may be thinking that this is what health class at school is for, and you are correct that health class is in place to provide pubescent children with information about their growing and changing bodies. However, it is also important for the inevitable gaps in school curriculum to be filled by a trusted parent. Your child needs to know how things are going to go, what they mean, and that it is okay to ask questions about these things because it is important to understand. You may not want the introductory conversation to be very lengthy because it will likely be filled with giggles and discomfort, but starting the conversation with a plan to follow it up in greater detail is a good route. Tell your child to think of questions between conversation one and two, so you’ll both be prepared the next time you speak.
Now for the content of these discussions. Sex will, of course, be one of the things to discuss. Training bras, periods, and ejaculation will also be on the agenda. Kidshealth.org encourages teaching boys about the changes the girls are experiencing and girls about the changes the boys are experiencing. At the age of puberty, many of the kids feel like they are the only ones experiencing these changes and issues. Letting your child know that everyone is going through this is comforting. Below is a list that kidshealth.org published for things kids should know about puberty.
- Girls become more rounded, especially in the hips and legs.
- Girls’ breasts begin to swell and then grow, sometimes one faster than the other
- Girls and boys get pubic hair and underarm hair, and their leg hair becomes thicker and darker.
- Both girls and boys often get acne and start to sweat more.
- Both girls and boys have a growth spurt.
- Boys’ penises and testicles grow larger.
- Boys’ voices change and become deeper.
- Boys grow facial hair and their muscles get bigger.
- Boys sometimes have wet dreams, which means they ejaculate in their sleep.
- When a girl begins menstruating, once a month, her uterine lining fills with blood in preparation for a fertilized egg. If the egg isn’t fertilized, she will have a period. If it is fertilized, she will become pregnant.
- A girl’s period may last 3 days to a week, and she can use sanitary napkins (pads) or tampons to absorb the blood.
Remember to leave time for questions following your discussions. If you are not sure how to answer your child’s questions, reach out to your child’s doctor for guidance. Each and every child experiences puberty differently and at a different rate. Just make sure your child knows that you are available for questions and that you want him or her to be informed about what is happing to their bodies. Making them comfortable, or as comfortable as possible, will help your child to open up to you and better understand.