There are lots of ways you can support your child through puberty.
It’s a hugely challenging time for your child and brings heaps of physical, hormonal, and emotional changes for them to cope with.
Puberty usually happens between the ages of 8-14 years old and is different for every child.
The average age for girls to start puberty is 11, while for boys, the average is 12. Some children will start earlier or go faster than other children.
As your child goes through puberty, they may have a sudden growth spurt. Their voice will drop, although this is far more noticeable in boys than girls.
Your child will start developing hair in their pubic areas, under their arms, and on their legs. Boys will also develop hair on their chest and face.
It’s common for children to have bouts of acne (spots) and it usually clears up naturally.
Other changes for girls
Girls will also find their hips widen and breasts begin to grow. It is common for one breast to be larger than the other.
They will start to menstruate (have their period) as their ovaries release an egg each month.
At first, their periods may seem random, as it can take time for them to settle into a usual monthly pattern.
Other changes for boys
Boys will start having erections that can happen at strange, and often embarrassing, times. They can feel out of control and ashamed of them.
They will ejaculate and may wake up to find they’ve had a “wet dream” where they’ve ejaculated in their sleep.
Support your child through puberty mood changes
It’s normal for young people going through puberty to show extremes in emotions and rapid mood changes.
While some young people are excited to grow up, others wish they could stay as they are, or don’t feel ready to go through puberty.
Your child may feel anxious about the changes to their body. Young people can also experience social anxiety, where they worry about fitting in with their peers.
Helping your child through puberty
Talk to your child about puberty before it starts. Be matter of fact and try to use correct body names rather than nicknames. Preparing them for how their body will change means they won’t have any shocks or surprises when it happens.
When we feel embarrassed, we can inadvertently laugh or avoid having a difficult conversation. That can give the impression that puberty is something to be ashamed of.
Try to be matter of fact and open to your child’s questions. Children can take a long time to work up the courage to ask a question, so don’t belittle, laugh, or dismiss them.
It can be a very trying time for your child, but it can also be hard for you to support your child through puberty. Be supportive, and try to stay calm when they’re trying your patience, experiencing mood swings, or pushing boundaries.
Many children are worried about puberty and will need your reassurance that it will be okay.
Doing your homework
Where will your child find information about puberty if it isn’t from you? Don’t assume that everything will have been covered in school.
They’re likely to search online, watch TV shows, and have conversations with their friends. They may pick up misconceptions, feel confused, or be worried about what they hear.
You don’t need to be an expert to talk to your child about puberty. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know the answer, but we can find it out.” There are lots of great websites and books designed for parents that can help you find all the information you need.
If you don’t feel confident talking to your child about puberty, why not get a book and read it together with them? It ensures you’ve covered everything they need to know and creates a great way to start a conversation with them.
Practical ways to support your child through puberrty
As well as emotional support, you can help your child learn how to look after their body.
Be positive about changes and open to conversations about it. If they find it too embarrassing to talk, they could write in a notebook, email, or text you questions.
- Talk to them about washing each day, particularly under their arms and between their legs.
- Buy your child some deodorant to practice using it — there are a range of types they can try out.
- A light face wash is good for acne-prone skin.
- Tell your child to avoid over-washing as this can make spots worse.
- Speak to your GP about severe acne, as there’s a range of treatments available.
- Show them how to do the laundry and where to find clean sheets so they can change them during their period or after a wet dream.
- Talk about the importance of changing clothing, particularly underwear, daily.
Supporting your daughter
- Buy a range of sanitary items so your child can find out which they prefer; there are tampons, pads, moon cups and different washable options they could try.
- Help them get fitted for a bra. They will probably want one before it’s actually needed.
Looking for more support?
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