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How should I talk to my child about puberty?

Parents should address puberty for boys and girls by educating them about upcoming changes and discussing their feelings.

When it comes to puberty, the absolute worst thing that can happen to a child is to be uninformed. A girl who hasn’t been taught about menstruation, for example, may believe there is something seriously wrong with her when it does occur. And that’s just the beginning. It’s an understatement to say that puberty is an overwhelming time for adolescents: Their bodies are changing and growing hair in places they’ve never imagined, their voices may be squeaking and growing deeper, and their skin—well, that’s a whole story of it’s own!

Rather than sitting your child down to have a one-time, complete and unabridged lecture, begin at an early age to establish an ongoing dialogue about puberty. The more comfortable you seem when you discuss the subject, the more at ease he or she will feel about it, too. While books on the subject shouldn’t serve as a substitute for honest communication between parent and child, reading them with your young child can help you both ease your way into further conversations. Older children, on the other hand, may be more comfortable reading about puberty on their own and coming to you with additional questions.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

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Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...
Hal Runkel
Hal Runkel on behalf of ScreamFree
Marriage & Family Therapy Specialist

To talk to your child about puberty, the best thing you can do is walk alongside him or her and don't be afraid to talk to your child about puberty. Don't demand that your child open up to you, but just say, "You know what? It's been a long time since I went through that. I'm not exactly sure how it feels. You tell me." That invites the child, because you've taken a humble stance, shoulder to shoulder with him or her, rather than a toe to toe, and, "I know what it feels like. Here's what you need to do."

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.