Be the Grownup, and Talk to Your Children about Growing Up

Information moves more quickly today than it did yesterday. We will receive it even faster tomorrow. Technology has made finding answers much easier. Parents may find themselves asking their children questions about phones, computers or the meanings of some words. Kids can find the answers, but they’re not always from the most reliable sources — certainly not as reliable as answers from you, their parents.

Do not wait for your child to come to you with questions about his or her changing body, because that day may never come. Let him or her know it’s OK to talk to you about this topic. You may have already had conversations about changes in their bodies since they were toddlers. But puberty brings questions about acne, deodorant, hair growth, menstruation, voice deepening, sex and more.  

It's important to answer these questions about puberty honestly — but you should not wait for your child to initiate a discussion. Statistics show that puberty begins for girls when they are between 8 and 13 years old and for boys between 10 and 16.

When talking to kids about puberty, it's important to be reassuring. Puberty brings about so many changes; it's easy for kids to feel insecure and alone. Kids entering puberty can sometimes feel insecure about their appearance, but it can help them to know that everyone goes through these changes. They also should know that everyone grows at their own pace.

The most important thing is to let your child know that you're available any time to talk. You should be the one to start the conversation. As a parent, it's your job to try to discuss all the changes as openly as possible. While you might feel embarrassed or awkward discussing these sensitive topics, your child probably will be relieved to have you take the lead. This can be easier if you're confident about the subject. Before you answer your child's questions, make sure your own questions have been answered.

You can bring up the subject by watching your child’s favorite show or listening to a popular song. Your child may talk about changes happening to one of his or her friends or even conversations they have had. You can also coordinate it with when they are studying health topics in school.

Adolescence can be a confusing time, and you can make your child's life less stressful with discussions about puberty. If there are questions or concerns about puberty and development that you can't answer, ask your child's doctor for advice.