Since the birth of your baby, you’ve probably dreaded the time you will have to explain puberty to your innocent kiddos and have the “talk.” Maybe your mom or dad passed off the “talk” to the school nurse or let your teachers explain puberty and the bird and bees. Maybe your mom was a little more open about it than you were comfortable with. Or perhaps it was a topic that was completely taboo in your house. We get it, no time is a good time, but it is necessary.
Puberty is a time of changes, and while it’s totally normal and we’ve all gone through it, it can still be uncomfortable to talk about. Plus, this is also a great time to discuss positive body image since changes are coming. If you’ve got a pre-teen in your house, we’ve got some tips on making the talk go a little more smoothly for both of you.
Start the talks early.
Puberty happens between 8 and 12 years old; boys are a little later, between 9 and 14. It’s never too early to start talking to your tween about their bodies. It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about their bodies and what kinds of changes they will experience during puberty.
Parents of girls should start talking to their daughters about menstruation before their first period, so they know what to expect and won’t be scared seeing blood in their undies that very first time and think that something is wrong with them.
Keep it simple.
You’re not a medical doctor (and even if you are), you don’t have to sound like you’re giving a lecture to medical students. Keep the language simple and the conversations short. More frequent short conversations rather than one long, drawn-out conversation will be much easier for everyone. However, professionals recommend using the proper body-part names when having these talks, AKA penis, and vagina.
Pro tip: sometimes, those sit-down, face-to-face chats are super awkward for both parties. If all that eye contact is not your thing, try talking side-by-side while you go for a walk, drive in the car, or work side-by-side on a puzzle. Sometimes having it not feel like an interrogation can make it easier to open up.
You don’t have to have all the answers.
Your kids will have questions. That is a no-brainer. You don’t need to have all the answers. It’s perfectly ok to say, “I’m not sure, but I will find out for you.” Your child’s pediatrician can also be a great resource for puberty help. Or you can offer to look up the answers together online.
Puberty is a time of massive changes. Boys’ voices drop, bodies change, hair starts growing in all starts of strange places, and a once-clear complexion can turn into breakout central overnight. It is important to offer reassurance, especially since not all kids go through these changes simultaneously. Remind your tween that what they’re going through (or not going through quite yet if they’re on the later-end of the puberty spectrum) is completely normal and something everyone goes through, but not at the same pace.
Remember, you’ve been through this yourself.
You probably still remember how awkward you felt in middle school or what it was like to need your first bra or get your first period. It’s a time of change for everyone, and it may be uncomfortable, but it soon enough passes. You got through your own puberty, and with a bit of prep, some patience, and love, you can get your tween through theirs, too. You got this!