How do you react when you hear that word? Perhaps you have a toddler, and you don’t even want to think about puberty yet. Perhaps you have a pre-pubescent child and you’re dreading the next few years. Or maybe your child is in the throes of puberty and you are wondering how you should talk to him about it all.
Puberty can be an overwhelming time for parents and children as you navigate your child’s physical and emotional changes and challenges.
But puberty is also an incredibly natural and normal phase of life, not to be feared but to be prepared for. The best thing you can do for your child is to prepare him or her for puberty early. How do you this? By talking to them about their bodies and sex from an early age.
I don’t see puberty as a one-time conversation but an ongoing one. During the middle school years, these conversations will become more frequent as this is when most children hit puberty, but the best thing you can do for your child is to keep the conversation lines open about his body, what’s happening with it, and how to care for it. This way when your child does hit puberty, he won’t be afraid or ashamed to tell you what’s going on because he will feel safe talking about his body with you.
Here’s a sample timeline:
In kindergarten: Tell your child why he wears a bathing suit to the beach. Make him close the door when using the bathroom. This will begin to teach him body boundaries.
In second grade: If your child asks (or hears about sex at school), have the talk with her. Tell her about intercourse in a gentle and positive way. She will howl and run out of the room, but this is normal. If she doesn’t ask by third grade, you initiate the talk. Does that sound daunting? Don’t worry. I have a tool kit dedicated to this exact conversation: “How to Have The Talk with Your Child.”