Children have a right to know how their bodies change, and the emotional impact of puberty, before they start to go through these changes.
Talking about the onset of puberty with your child is important. One upside of being in lockdown is that it has given us the time to have these conversations, in the comfort of your own homes, at a time and pace that is suitable for you and your child.
If you do take this opportunity to talk to your child about puberty, we hope these suggestions help you.
- TV, Films or a character from a book can be a useful way to explore feelings, values and beliefs.
- A way of addressing your child’s knowledge and feelings is for your child to draw a gingerbread person. Draw or write names of body parts, and emotional changes, on and around the picture.
- Use correct terminology when talking about body parts: breasts, vulva, vagina, penis and testicles. Knowing the correct words for these parts of their body helps to keep children and young people safe and also look after their health. Even if you use other words at home, it’s important that children know the correct terms.
- Have a look at the range of resources to gain ideas and identify those appropriate for you and your child.
- Don’t give up if your first attempt doesn’t go well. Try a different approach or use an alternative resource (a book, video link or website).
- Take a lead from your child as to whether the discussion is pitched at the right level. Don’t worry though, too basic and your child will ask for more detail, too advanced and they will only take away what they understand for their own age, level of maturity and ability.
- It is important that your child can ask you questions. Answer honestly, and if you don’t know the answer, say you will find out. Ensure that you do return to their question at another time.
Talking about puberty, body images and body changes can be tricky which is often why adults avoid it.
It is OK to show your feelings. Acknowledge this embarrassment and use humour for any awkward bits.