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How to Talk to Your Child About Puberty

Snehal Motkar Mar 17, 2020
Talking to a child about puberty can be a little embarrassing for both child as well as parents but, no one can escape this situation. Hence, through this story, I will present to you, some helpful ways to talk to your child about puberty.
Puberty is the most crucial stage of our lives and everyone goes through it at some point in life. All the major changes, physical, emotional and psychological occur during this stage. A human body starts developing as one moves from childhood to adolescence. It has been scientifically proved that girls mature earlier as compared to boys.
Girls get their first period around 12 years of age, i.e., two to two and half years after they begin puberty. But, this is a general observation, it differs from one girl to another.
Some girls might get their first period as early as 9 years of age and as late as age 16. Naturally, the changes in girls are different from boys and so the timing of puberty varies a great deal in both of them.
Puberty in girls starts between the ages 8 and 13 whereas in boys it is between 10 and 15 years. The wide age range can answer your question, why some girls and boys of your child's age still look like kids and some look more like adults.
The beginning of puberty at a very early stage is called precocious puberty. All individuals cannot take these changes easily as others and might be frightened and confused about it. Some schools talk to their students about these topics, but it comes very late.
It is the primary responsibility of the parents to talk to their children during their early childhood, approximately at the age of 8 years. The next segment is divided into two parts because the ways to talk to girls and boys about puberty are different.

Talking to Your Daughter About Puberty

Earlier, the situation was somewhat like this: when a girl gets her first period, only then she knows about it. The mother or any other elderly female never bothered to explain what it exactly was or why it happens? 
The girl was not supposed to ask questions about it and even if she asked, very casual and ridiculous answers like "it happens" or "every girl goes through it" were given to her and nothing more than that. What should she make out of such statements? The girl used to feel only confused and helpless. But, nowadays, the situation has changed.
Children are exposed to so many things that they are aware of these things before the right time and the information is also not from the reliable sources. Thanks to the present media and television. These mediums have become so much independent that they take up any issue and present it as they want.
In such a scenario, talking about the issues of puberty remains an important point and you as a parent, should be very careful and start talking, as early as possible, to your daughter about puberty.
Here are a few tips to help you initiate the talk on this sensitive yet most important subject with your daughter.
  • Let her know about menstruation even before she gets her first period otherwise she will be frightened at the sight and location of the blood. You can start talking to her right from the age of 8 years.
  • Convince her that it is absolutely natural and normal, and everyone has to go through it sometime in life, only the timing differs from person to person.
It is very important to convince her on this part because if your girl is alone in her group who still did not get her first period or if she is the first one to get it, she might feel embarrassed and as an odd man out.
  • Tell her the reason behind the small lumps that she experiences around her nipples and about the swelling of the breasts. Let her know that her body is growing according to her age and the above-mentioned parts are the major organs that reflect the changes in the growth prominently.
  • The growth of hair in the armpits and the pubic area is also a major change and needs to be talked about. Also the leg hair starts thickening and there is a rapid increase in the height of both girls and boys.
  • Last but not the least, be patient and open to answer any question raised by your daughter. Be clear enough in your explanation and make more use of scientific terms which will make both of you comfortable while conversing.
  • If you do not have the correct answer for any of the questions put forth by your daughter, do not overlook or give incorrect answers. This will only confuse the child and the conversation will be of no use to her.

Talking to Your Son About Puberty

Boys may feel comfortable talking about their puberty with other males. May be the father, uncle or any other close male figure can take the responsibility of talking to the boy about the changes in his body.
However, if there is no such person in his life, a trusted female can do the job. Many parents never talk to their kids about puberty. So the school in such a case must be advised to arrange a session on this subject.
If you are going to talk to your boy about puberty, here are some instructions that will make your conversation better.
  • Like a girl, a boy also needs an assurance that whatever is happening to him is normal and there is nothing wrong in it. You should be confident enough while delivering your speech. This will make the boy believe you and won't feel awkward.
  • Make use of formal and scientific language which will make the explanation clearer. If you hesitate while pronouncing some words and say something different, it will only confuse the child.
  • Tell him that his penis and testicles will begin to grow during puberty and he will experience ejaculation. The concept of wet dreams or nocturnal emissions needs to be explained to the boy because he often gets wet dreams during puberty which makes him feel embarrassed. 
Nocturnal emission is nothing but the discharge of semen through the penis when the boy is asleep. The body is becoming capable of producing testosterone (male sex hormone) and there is an erection in the penis. This erection leads to ejaculation.
  • Tell your son about the growing hair on the face, in the armpits and the pubic area. There is also a considerable increase in the height and weight and the voice cracks and deepens.
Boys and girls both suffer from acne during puberty and it is important to tell them to take care of their body, especially the face and the skin.
As a last piece of advice, be prepared before the conversation, write whatever you want to say if you are not confident and get ready to answer any question. If you are not able to answer a question or feel doubtful, better take help from your family health care provider and clear it off.
Finally, leave your child with something to read which will give him/her additional valuable information about this normal, natural yet important stage of life.