Help Kids Understand Their Changing Bodies
For most children, puberty is an awkward and confusing time. Because it can be embarrassing to discuss body changes, some children—and parents—may not want to talk openly about issues related to puberty. You may need to initiate the conversation in private when your child is not distracted or tired. Be open to any questions, and try to react to all aspects of the conversation in a positive way.
Strategies for talking about puberty:
- Tell it like it is. Reassure children that the body changes associated with puberty are a normal part of growing up and that everyone goes through it. Be honest about the issues, encourage them to ask questions, and be sure to respond to any question the child asks. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know an answer, and promise you’ll find out. Look up the answer together, if you’re able.
- Start early. Talking to children about body changes early helps prevent the feelings of embarrassment that often result when the changes eventually occur. As they grow older, children can sometimes pick up cues about being embarrassed from adults, so starting the conversation early will put both you and your children at ease with the topic.
- Share a personal story. When talking to children about puberty, it may help to share memories of that time in your life, so children know their parents empathize with their feelings of insecurity or embarrassment. However, don’t feel like you have to share intimate details.