Puberty: A Change Is Gonna Come
Perhaps one of the most confusing and embarrassing times of a person's life is when they begin undergoing puberty. The best way to handle it with your kids is to be prepared. Don't expect your kids to feel comfortable asking you any and all questions about the changes their bodies will undergo, but if they do ask, no matter what age, it's important to answer them as honestly and candidly as you can. By age 8, kids should understand the changes that will set in over the coming years, and those that the opposite sex face. It may seem young, but many girls are wearing training bras by that age, and they may menstruate as early as age 9. It can be frightening for girls at that age to begin bleeding without being made aware of why it's happening. Boys' voices tend to change around the same time, so awareness is key for them as well. Many kids get "the talk" at school - normally, boys and girls are segregated and learn only about the changes that affect their sex. Talk to teachers and administrators to fill in gaps in education at home. If you're not comfortable talking to your child about puberty, then ask your pediatrician or family doctor for guidelines or practice what you'll say beforehand. Be prepared to answer questions about why certain parts are bigger/smaller than other kids', focusing on individual rates of growth and development - everyone is different. Reassure your child that the changes are normal, no matter the rate at which they develop. Common developments in both sexes that should be discussed are: pubic hair growth, increased perspiration, acne and growth spurts. Boys should understand that their voices will deepen, wet dreams will occur and genitalia will grow. Girls should understand breast growth, menstruation and the development of a more womanly figure. Kids should feel comfortable about the coming changes and view them in a positive light. Parents can help by communicating and simply being available to answer questions.