Navigating puberty can be challenging for both children and parents, but starting a clear line of communication is important in order to foster positive and healthy puberty experiences.
Once a teen starts going through puberty, navigating bodily changes – along with the dialogue to accompany them – can be a challenge for all parents. These unknown experiences might feel overwhelming for your child and confusing for you to address – and that’s normal! To alleviate the anxiety around puberty discussions, it’s helpful to start by creating an open space for communication. Check in with your kids and welcome any and all conversations. Be real with them. Establishing a clear line of communication is incredibly important for family dynamics down the road.
When is the right time?
I frequently hear from patients who seek guidance on which puberty topics to cover first. When your child is young, anatomy is a great place to start. It’s never too early to introduce your kid to the proper names of body parts. When you focus on helping your child understand how their body works, you empower them to keep their body healthy, and to become more self-aware as they grow. That way, they’re more prepared when changes occur during puberty.
As you approach more of these conversations, I recommend addressing topics like personal hygiene and hormonal changes that lead to things like hair growth and menstruation. Throughout puberty, remind your children that all these changes are normal and natural, and that it’s important to ask questions.
Educating your child
The more you can educate your child about puberty the better prepared they’ll be. Although some puberty experiences, like menstruation, can be a bit difficult to manage, I encourage you to keep a positive tone when explaining this topic. Remind them that periods are a natural and important part of the circle of life! By shattering stigmas around period shame and silence, we can guide girls to understand what is or isn’t normal and empower them to talk to their doctor in order to keep everything healthy. As your child prepares for their first period, relieve any concerns by educating them on the resources and products available to girls who experience periods:
In the end, openly approaching puberty questions will help lead your child to a healthy and confident life. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to talk with a doctor about this exciting time in their life.
About Dr. Jessica Shepherd: Dr. Jessica Shepherd is an OB/GYN, women's health expert and the founder of Her Viewpoint, an online women's health forum that focuses on addressing taboo topics in a comfortable setting. She currently practices at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
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This is not intended to be medical advice. Everybody is different so please make sure to consult your physician if you're having issues. Do not delay or refrain from seeking professional medical advice from your physician because of something you have read on this site.
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