Parenting is hard work. Once you have safely navigated your toddler through milestones like the start of school; parents have to start gearing themselves for the teenage years filled with angst and rebellion.
A major task before your child becomes a teen is to have the ‘puberty talk’ with them. Awkward, confusing, difficult — all rolled into one, the puberty talk can be hard for many parents. But an honest conversation about puberty can lead to your child having healthier relationships with their own bodies and others later in life.
To make the ‘puberty talk’ easy, here’s the ultimate guide to acing the puberty talk with your child.
Tips to remember while talking to your daughter about puberty:
1. Don’t forget to let your daughter know that the shape of her body will change. She might notice her hips getting wider.
2. Her breasts will begin to grow and she’ll need help picking out a bra in case she needs one.
3. Zits will start to appear on her face, neck and back.
4. She will notice the growth of hair under her arms and in her pubic area.
5. Walk your daughter through how periods occur when the lining of the uterus, blood and tissue along with an unfertilised egg are removed roughly every month through the vagina. Make sure you let your daughter know how she can track her period cycle and that with her period she can expect cramps and other symptoms of PMS. Talk her through different period hygiene products such as pads, cloth pads, tampons and menstrual cups. Help her decide which of these she can use.
6. Talk to your daughter about the different parts of her genitalia. Tell her how she may start to experience sexual urges; and that masturbation is healthy and nothing to feel guilty about.
Tips to remember while talking to your son about puberty:
1. His body shape may change. And you both might notice his shoulders getting broader and a clearer definition of muscle in his body.
2. The appearance of zits.
3. The start of hair growth all over his body and how he’ll have to learn the ‘art of the shave’.
4. His voice will crack.
5. His penis and testicles will grow. And hair will appear in his pubic area.
6. The most awkward topic to broach could be explaining to your son what an erection is and what ejaculation and orgasm are. Explain to him that masturbation is natural and it is not something he should feel guilty about.
Puberty is an awkward time (as photos of most of us as teens will testify). Before you have the talk, try and list any negative thoughts you may have of your own body or sexuality. Try and remember which sources or people these negative thoughts came from. Remember to avoid using any of this harmful language with your own child.
Puberty is a time when as individuals we start to understand who we are. We begin to develop an understanding of our bodies and begin to examine our sexuality and the realm of romantic relationships. It’s important to let your child know that they should not be ashamed or dislike their body because of the physical changes that come with puberty. Remember to keep the ‘puberty talk’ body positive and to let them know that if they come across any stumbling blocks in their journey towards becoming an adult, they can come to you for help and support.