Between the ages of 11 and 18, children are slowly maturing into young adults and forming their own identities. In their tween and teen years, your child will go through changes in both their body and their emotional life. As a parent, it’s important to be there for them through these changes so that this time feels less scary for them.
Why is this important?
- Normalizing the changes that your tween or teen is going through will help them gain more self-confidence and feel validated about their emotions and experiences.
- Kids can feel alone and insecure during this time; it will benefit their emotional health to have someone to talk to about these changes.
- Some changes can be frightening for kids if they haven’t learned about them yet; for example, the sight of blood on a girl’s first period can feel confusing and scary.
- Kids who feel comfortable talking to their parents openly about their bodies and sex are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviours.
How to support your teen/tween through changes in puberty:
- Open the conversation. Don’t wait for your tween to bring up the topic of puberty with you — bring it up yourself.
- Don’t feel pressured to have “the talk” with your tween or teen. It’s okay, and even better, to have smaller talks about it on a regular basis.
- Find out what they already know. They’re probably learning some things at school, so focus on answering questions about things they’re curious about, and correcting any misinformation that they may have picked up from peers.
- Try not to act embarrassed or uncomfortable, even if you are. If your child feels uncomfortable talking about their body with you, offer to schedule a meeting with their GP or a counsellor.
- Use the scientific names for body parts, especially genitals, and give them neutral, accurate information about any questions they have. This will teach them that their bodies are nothing to be ashamed of.
- Validate and normalize. Affirm that these are changes that everyone goes through, and that different kids go through them at different times. Assure them that they are normal.
Planned Parenthood. Tips for Talking. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/parents/tips-talking. Accessed April 6, 2021.
Raising Children. Puberty: helping your child handle the changes. https://raisingchildren.net.au/teens/development/puberty-sexual-development/puberty-helping-your-child. Accessed April 6, 2021.
Kids’ Health. Talking to Your Child About Puberty. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/talk-about-puberty.html. Accessed April 7, 2021.