Let’s be real, going through puberty is a difficult part of adolescence! There are a lot of physical and emotional changes that can be overwhelming for kids and parents alike. Of course you want to help guide your child through this transitional time, but sometimes it can be challenging to know what that looks like. We’ve got some tips to help your adolescent (and yourself) through this challenging time.
Role Model Body Acceptance: During puberty most adolescents will compare their bodies to their friends and classmates, they may become concerned about their own development. You want to show understanding and remind your tween that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Be wary and take notice if you find yourself putting yourself down in front of them as well. Modelling a healthy lifestyle and positive body image is very important.
Privacy: During this period a lot of tweens might want more privacy. Try to be accepting of this and give them their space if its something they are wanting. Remember to always knock before entering their bedroom!
Early\Late Development: If your adolescent begins puberty earlier or later than their friends this may become a worry for them. Provide them with a lot of reassurance and support and remind them that everyone develops at their own pace.
Acne: If your child develops acne have a discussion with them to see if it is bothering them. If it is, ask them if they would like to see a doctor about it. Your doctor may refer them to a dermatologist or skin care specialist that can help.
Praise, Praise, Praise: It is important to praise your child on their achievements and efforts. Showing them that they are loved and appreciated can really help with their confidence which may be lacking during this time.
Remain Calm: Unfortunately, a big part of puberty is hormonal changes which can result in outbursts and a negative attitude. Try your best to remain calm during these outbursts. It is much easier to wait until they have calmed down to have a discussion about whatever the issue may be.
Stay Involved: This is a very important time to stay active and involved in your teenager’s life, even though it will seem like they are pushing you away. Discuss what’s going on with them daily, and always be available to chat.
Self Expression: Puberty is a time when self expression becomes more prominent. Sometimes this can come out in an extreme hairstyle or eccentric clothing, try to be supportive of these choices.
Personal Care: Suddenly you may notice your tween is showing a much bigger interest in their personal care and appearance. This might mean hours spent in the bathroom, or a longer than normal morning routine. Try to tolerate these changes, and maybe chat about a bathroom time schedule if this is a problem with siblings.
Period Prep: The best way to make your daughter’s first period less scary is to make sure she is prepared ahead of time so it doesn’t come as a shock. Make a period kit including pads, extra undies, little bags, some hand sanitizer etc. Pick out a cool little bag to pack everything in. Have a plan for pain and discomfort (hot water bottle, over the counter pain remedies etc). Most importantly, remind her that this is a natural process that will happen to every girl in their own time. If you’re looking for a book that talks primarily about periods, you will find them in my list of some of the best menstruation (or period) books.
Talk with your doctor: If you are having any real concerns about delayed development, mood changes, or mental health make sure you consult your doctor. Although many changes are common during puberty, it could be a symptom of an underlying health concern.
Take care of yourself: Let’s face it, your teen going through puberty can be stressful for you and your entire family. Try to stay positive and keep prospective (this too shall pass). Reach out to support systems (parents, friends, online forums) and you will soon find that what you and your child are going through is quite normal and having the support of others can make this time a lot more bearable. Also, as your child is becoming an adult it is important to make sure they are learning responsibility. This is a great time to teach them a new skill or chore that they can do around the house. Not only are you better preparing them for adulthood, but you are lightening your own workload (talk about a win, win!)
Useful Resources for talking to your teens about puberty:
Puberty 101 You’ll find lots of different blog posts to help with talking to your child about growing up.
You’ll find videos about puberty here Sex Education Videos that you can watch with your teen or to learn more about puberty yourself.
If you get stuck and feel that you need some extra support with talking to your teen about puberty, these books, Boy Puberty – How to talk about puberty and sex with your tween boy or Girl Puberty – How to talk about puberty and sex with your tween girl, may be helpful. It’s a straightforward common sense guide that will help you to start having honest conversations that will guide your adolescent through puberty, and strengthen your relationship without feeling embarrassed, awkward or nervous.
If you need some help with explaining sexual intercourse, then Let’s Talk About Sex, will help you explain sex to your teen in a way they will understand. It breaks it down into simple steps that take the stress out of explaining!
If you’re unsure about how to answer your child’s questions about sex, then The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to the most common questions kid’s ask parents about sex. Which means you don’t need to worry about finding a child-friendly explanation that your child understands.