For most teenagers, puberty comes like a runaway train pulling boxcars of raging hormones creating a powerful combination of physical and mental challenges. The process of teaching the kids about these changes in their bodies and minds can be daunting. However talking to your child about puberty, can definitely help them get through this phase of change. It’s a known fact that during puberty in boys and girls, they worry about being “normal”. Many children are seen to lose their self-esteem, as they enter adolescence much earlier than their friends. Others feel embarrassed when they realize that everyone has gone through it except them. If this is the case, hold on! Try not to dramatize the conversation otherwise, it can make things more awkward and uncomfortable for the teenage mind. The key here is “communication”. Talking to them about what they are going through is very important in helping them understand it’s normal.
To help you out, we have curated a few major points on which you need to focus while explaining to them about puberty. Only the right way can help you be more comfortable, and so will the kids be.
Here are a few ways on how to teach them about adolescence
1. Start “The Talk” Early
Today, kids are exposed to so much information about sex and relationships on the Internet that by the time they approach adolescence, they get familiar with some advanced ideas. Yet, talking about the issue remains an important job for both parents and teachers because not all the information comes from reliable sources. Filtering it for their best interest remains a steady task for the parents and teachers. So, don’t wait for a teenager to come to you with questions about his or her changing body. That day may never come, especially if a child doesn’t know it’s OK to talk to you about this sensitive topic.
2. Educate, educate, and educate!
Inform and educate adolescents so that they can make great choices about their body as they become teenagers. It is also important for parents and teachers that they teach the kids to respect their own body, and those of others as well.
3. How to talk to your students about adolescence?
Talk about the topic of adolescence the way you cover any other topic in the classroom. Normalize the conversation from the beginning to eliminate the embarrassment and shame that students might face at some point. Make a note to invest your students with knowledge about their bodies and compassion for others.
4. Puberty shouldn’t be a ‘taboo’ subject
Talking to your kids “early” on such topics will not only help them accept but will also make them comfortable with the natural biological changes that their bodies are going to experience. Each child has a different level of maturity, so is their understanding. If you are not sure, have a chat with your school management before you bring up a sensitive topic. The thumb rule is always to talk to the kid’s parents first. Make them aware of your plans. This will not only give them a chance to have a word with their children first but will also help them to prepare their kids. They can even withdraw their child if they feel they are not ready.
5. Support your child’s physical activity
For good physical and mental health, your child needs at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise every day. This will help them stay active, and be involved in a team. However, if you observe any changes, do not just wait! Opt for general pediatrics.
6. Spot the differences and share the experiences
Do you remember your sense of fashion and tastes of music too have changed since you were a teen? Well, the same goes for your child too. If you want to share what you went through, use ‘I’ to make them realize that you are not speaking for them. Show that you understand how things were different when you were younger, and be curious about things they are going through now. This will hopefully encourage them to own their experiences and feelings. Because life is both rocky and smooth, it’s wise to share the positive and negative parts of puberty, as these are more real and relatable for your kids. A little of humor here and there could be just the thing to break the ice. If you are a mom and can recall the horror of your first bra like: Where did you buy it? How did it feel? How did it look, and then go ahead? To most, Puberty is a serious business, but there’s still plenty of room for laughter.
7. Take time, make time
It’s hard. You may work full-time; have two children, or lots of commitments. Sometimes all three. But even ten minutes together can create a great bond between you and your child. Don’t necessarily wait until she starts asking questions – she might be looking to you to kick off the more difficult conversations. Be brave! Even if your child seems embarrassed, your courage will pay off in the long run. A walk, a short drive in the car, or cup of coffee at the kitchen table is ideally what you need. Some things should be spoken about behind closed doors, not because they are shameful, but because a quiet space is what your child needs while trying to speak up honestly.
8. Teach them about “periods”
Periods start only when all reproductive organs of a female are matured. For some, it may start in between the age of 8 and 16, while some begin to develop later than most of their peers. This is absolutely normal. However, teach them to use feminine hygiene products during “those” times. In case your child is going through any health issues, take her to a healthcare provider. He would monitor her maturation and watch out for problems. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s growth and development, ask the doctor to prescribe adolescent medicines.
9. Know that everyone is different
Puberty affects everyone -be it girls, boys, Trans, or intersex students. It’s often seen that many schools divide the class into a binary way to teach such topics and do not consider how much anxiety can arise to a trans student who is already aware of the changes happening to him. So, if you know you have trans and/or intersex students in your class then talk to them before about the topic and ask them what would help to make them feel more comfortable during the lesson. Signpost students to where they can get further support and information.
If you are a teacher and still looking for more activities on teaching the trickiest side of adolescence, there are different resources to help you out.
The best thing about Period Talk is that it’s not just for girls – it’s boy and girl-friendly!
For parents: it’s always recommended to talk more freely on this unusual topic. As research says that teenagers who have regular conversations with their parents about puberty are less likely to take risks with their sexual health, and more likely to be healthy and safe. So it’s never too early and never too late to start talking with your kid about sex and relationships.
Do it today! Do it now!