Puberty is one of the most important stages a child will go through growing up, and it’s crucial for them to be properly informed about what they will experience. Rena Braswell, nurse practitioner at Monroe Pediatrics, explains how to have the talk on puberty with your child and when is the best time to have it.
On when is the best time to start having conversations on puberty
The best time is before these changes occur in their body. With social media, television and the internet, we’re finding that we have to start these conversations earlier and earlier because of their exposure. Generally between the ages of eight to 10 would be the most appropriate.
On how to start the conversation
Well, you want to start out extremely light- hearted that way it will be neither stressful to the parent or the child. I would start out by saying that they have hormones in their bodies that are getting their body ready to becoming an adult, and these hormones cause different changes including pimples, sweating, mood swings and that this is very normal. So, just starting out with simple conversation like that is always the best.
On if your children are teenagers and you haven’t had the conversation
It never hurts to go backwards and share information with them that you think they may already know. Hey have already gotten information from their peers and you want to make sure they have gotten the accurate information. So, going backwards and starting with basics is always the best option even if they’re teenagers already.
On what the conversation is like with younger kids
For younger kids, it would be making sure that they can identify their body parts with the appropriate name, and making sure that [they know] those are their private areas. Nobody should be allowed to look at them or touch them unless they are your doctor or parents. Starting out with them really young like that is probably where I would start that conversation.
On what the best resources are for parents to have the conversation
I think if parents do not really know how to begin the conversation with their child is to either go to their pediatrician or to their primary care provider who will help them initiate those conversations, or they will give them the resources they need. It’s just very difficult to reach out there on the internet because you just don’t know if you’re getting accurate information. So, always starting with pediatricians or primary care provider is your best option.
On the impact these conversations will have on the parent-child relationship
If you start having this conversation about puberty, what that does is open up a huge window of conversations for your child that even carries them into adulthood. As my children were growing up, my husband and I had extremely open conversations with them, and now that their adults, they will tell you that it was the best gift we could have ever given them. It’s because even though it wasn’t a puberty related issue, they felt like they could come to us with other adult problems without any threat of being judged and with a lot of openness involved.