Puberty talk. Adolescence. Hormones. Growing up.
It’s that phase when you go through every imaginable change possible and are confused, worried and wondering what on earth happened with your body. We’ve all been through it. Yet, how many of us are comfortable talking about it with our kids, our daughters and our sons?The puberty talk is something we all need to have, as parents. It’s a very normal, biological process and it would help if we approach it in exactly the same manner.
In today’s post, I will be referring to how you can have the puberty talk with your daughters. For those with sons, I highly recommend the links mentioned at the end of this article.
When should you have the puberty talk?
Most of us would have had this talk with our parents around 12 or 13. But, things have changed now. Experts now recommend that you speak to your kids between the ages of 8 to 10 years.
One reason is, of course, that the onset of puberty could happen around the age of 9 these days. Another is that with access to information and the internet being ubiquitous, it’s better if they hear it from you, instead of half-baked tidbits from their friends or other sources.
How to have the puberty talk
1. Prepare in advance
First, take deep breaths and relax. If you are a mom, you’re familiar with the way the body works, the changes it undergoes each month and what that felt like when you first experienced it.
The key thing to remember here is that you have to feel comfortable before you talk to your child. How do you do that? Well, you can read up literature on the subject and watch a few good videos on how to approach it. (See links below)If you’re still nervous, practice before a mirror.
Do you find yourself flushing or being ashamed? Start over. Breathe again. Tell yourself this is a normal talk.
2. Use the actual names for the parts of the body
Puberty is a normal thing. You know it and I know it. It’s the kids who don’t know it yet. Do you use the actual terms for the parts of the female anatomy, such as breasts, pelvis, vulva, vagina and cervix? You should.
If you don’t, start saying it out loud (remember the mirror trick) and don’t cringe or giggle when saying it. That’s what will transfer to the child when you are talking to her.
Think of it as a lesson in biology class and you are looking at a diagram that shows the female reproductive system. We all learnt it, right? That’s exactly what you are doing. In fact, get a diagram of the system and explain it to her in a clinical way. Straightforward talk is always the best.
3. Ensure the child is not tired or inattentive
Find a time and a comfortable space like the couch or the bed when you can snuggle up with the daughter. I love this method because it’s a way for me to release the awkwardness around topics that we don’t generally address.
In our case, we sat on our couch, side by side, reading from the pamphlet we had and calmly discussing the most natural thing in the world. Make sure you have 20 to 30 minutes of uninterrupted time when you can broach the subject, answer questions and clarify any doubts the child may have.
4. What you should cover during the talk
Jumping straight into period talk can be a bit confusing for the child. Start off by talking about how a girls’ body changes physically.
- Speak about the growth of breasts and the need for a training bra or a support bra.
- Explain other physical changes such as hair growth under the arms.
- Acne is another important aspect to address.
- Refer to the emotional changes too, such as mood swings, sudden and intense feelings towards other kids and temper tantrums.
- Then, talk about menstruation.
When you begin talking about menstruation, explain clearly what happens inside the body. This is to help them process what happens. My daughter’s school had a detailed pamphlet handed out to each girl. Yet, she was still a bit curious. So I explained wherever she had doubts.
I calmly used the words given for each body part. There was no giggling or snickering and she was very mature in the way she received the information.
*Some kids may snigger, by the way. Don’t shame them for it. Gently smile and explain that this is the same for every woman. Do not yell or make it uncomfortable for them.
Next, speak about sanitary products that are useful during menstruation. Explain the differences between a sanitary pad and a tampon. Some places provide a starter kit while some moms actually put together a simple kit right at home for the kids to carry with them. This is a very sensible decision, in my opinion. The school’s pamphlet too had a section devoted to this aspect.
Affirm that menstruation does not change anything for their physical activity. Kids can still play, run, jump and do everything they love even with their cycle. A good physical routine should help them stay fit and comfortable even with all the changes in their body.
5. Use tools/aids such as books and videos
I’ve put together this list of resources you can use when you have the talk. These are all excellent for the frank way that they approach the subject.
The books are extremely useful too. I have a copy of the first one given below and it’s simply perfect!
As a cautionary note, do read the books once before you start the talk with the child. This is to ensure that you are completely comfortable with the topic. It will also help you anticipate the kinds of questions that the tween may pose.
Videos on Puberty
Recommended Reading (Books)
For Boys: Just for Boys
Recommended Reading (Links)
So, have you had the puberty talk with your daughter yet? How did it go? Is there anything else that you particularly addressed?
Do share your thoughts.
If you found this post useful, feel free to share it with parents in your circle who may have tween daughters.
*Featured images courtesy: Shutterstock
Linking up with Nabanita’s #MommyTalks Linkup
Also linking up with Tweens, Teens & Beyond. It’s a lovely linky for parents of tweens and teens. Check it out for some cool posts!