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How to Explain Puberty to Children

By Diane Lynn ; Updated June 13, 2017

Explaining puberty to your child can be intimidating and frightening. It probably seems as though your child was just a baby and now it's time to talk with her about her body changing. Ideally, you should begin discussing the upcoming changes before she enters puberty. In either case, it's never too late to open the discussion. Prepare yourself ahead of time by reading books on the subject and talking to friends with older children to anticipate any questions she may ask.

Explain puberty happens to everyone. Your child may feel confused or embarrassed when you bring up the topic of his body changing. This is normal and natural. Be straightforward in your explanations and reassure your child that it's okay to feel uncomfortable talking about the subject. Tell your child that girls’ bodies change after the age of 8 and boys bodies change after the age of 10. Let your child know that all kids start puberty at a different age and this is why some children look like adults when other children the same age still look like young kids, explains KidsHealth.

Tell her about the upcoming changes to her body. If it makes it easier for you, use a book written for her age and maturity level and read the book together. If she has not already developed breast buds, explain that buds will soon appear and may be tender at first. Prepare her for the emergence of pubic hair and hair growing faster on her legs and under her arms. Explain the process of menstruation and reassure her that menstruation is nothing to fear. Be joyful when you tell her that her menstrual cycles appearing mean that she may someday be a mother.

Detail the impending physical changes your son is about to experience. As with a girl, use a book if that makes the conversation less awkward. Begin by talking about hair growth. Tell him that his pubic and body hair will grow as he enters and moves through puberty. Explain that as he suddenly grows taller, his genitals will get larger and more developed. Be upfront with him and let him know to expect erections at unexpected times. Keep your conversation light by demonstrating what his voice may sound like as he moves through the early stages of puberty. Share your own experiences honestly.

Prepare your child for the emotional aspects of puberty. Let your child know that puberty is a time of great physical and emotional changes. He may feel happy one minute and angry the next. Your son may feel too big for his body and not understand why he feels the way he does. Make sure your child knows that you understand the emotions and moodiness he may experience and express your love for him.

Remain open and willing to discuss puberty with your child even after you have completed your initial discussion. Children oftentimes are embarrassed to ask questions while you are talking about puberty. Encourage your child to come to you at any time with concerns. Bring up the subject on a regular basis to keep the lines of communication open.

Tips

Relax and enjoy the conversations you have with your child about puberty and share your own experiences with puberty to put your child at ease. Plan on having several talks with your child about puberty.

Keep your sense of humor when talking with your child but use the proper medical terms when explaining body parts.

Warnings

Always consult with your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns about his development.

Be alert for signs of depression in your child.

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