Puberty: when to talk to your child about puberty

Puberty: when to talk to your child about puberty

There’s only one thing more awkward than going through puberty, and that’s talking about it with your parents! But don’t be deterred, discussing this physical milestone with your children will help prepare them for the changes ahead and reassure them they can always confide in you.

What to tell your son

Puberty can begin as early as 10 years of age or as late as 16 for boys, so explain to your son that everybody is different. He can, however, expect the following changes:

  • A sudden growth spurt, that might make him clumsier than usual
  • Broadening of the shoulders
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle development
  • His voice will break and become deeper
  • He’ll develop hair under his arms, on his legs, arms, and face, and around his genitals
  • He’ll start to sweat more and develop oily skin and spots
  • His genitals will grow, and he’ll experience erections and wet dreams

While you’re on the subject, it’s also a good idea to talk about hygiene and how he’ll need to shower daily and after physical activity, as well as use deodorant. You might also want to talk to him about skin care and shaving, when the time is right. Above all, remember that this transition from boy to man can be an anxious time, so be as sensitive as you can and respect his privacy at all times.

What to tell your daughter

Puberty and your special needs daughterGirls go through puberty between the ages nine and 13 years old, so it’s important you start talking to your daughter as soon as possible about the changes she’s going to experience. Explain that everybody develops at different rates, so she shouldn’t feel awkward if she isn’t at the same stage as her classmates. The following changes will occur in their own good time:

  • Lumps under her nipples as her breasts begin to ‘bud’ and develop
  • Hair under her arms, on her legs, and around her genitals
  • A growth spurt as she develops wider hips and a smaller waist
  • Her periods will start between the ages of nine and 16 years old. This can be a scary thing for girls if they’re not prepared for it, so explain the ins and outs well in advance and make sure your daughter knows how to use feminine hygiene products.

Read all about it

Some parents find it helpful to buy their children books on puberty so their children can refer back to it in their own time. There are plenty aimed at young people, just make sure you read it first to ensure it’s consistent with your values.

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