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Health Information For Parents
Today, kids are exposed to so much information about sex and relationships on TV and the Internet that by the time they approach puberty, they may be familiar with some advanced ideas. And yet, talking about the issues of puberty remains an important job for parents because not all of a child’s information comes from reliable sources.
Don’t wait for your child to come to you with questions about his or her changing body — that day may never arrive, especially if your child doesn’t know it’s OK talk to you about this sensitive topic.
Ideally, as a parent, you’ve already started talking to your kids about the changes our bodies go through as we grow. Since the toddler years, kids have questions and most of your discussions probably come about as the result of your child’s inquiries.
It’s important to answer these questions about puberty honestly and openly — but don’t always wait for your child to initiate a discussion. By the time kids are 8 years old, they should know what physical and emotional changes are associated with puberty. That may seem young, but consider this: some girls are wearing training bras by then and some boys’ voices begin to change just a few years later.
With girls, it’s vital that parents talk about menstruation before their daughters actually get their periods. If they are unaware of what’s happening, girls can be frightened by the sight and location of the blood.
Most girls get their first period when they’re 12 or 13 years old, which is about 2 or 2½ years after they begin puberty. But some get their periods as early as age 9, while others get it as late as age 16.
On average, boys begin going through puberty a little later than girls, usually around age 10 or 11. But they may begin to develop sexually or have their first ejaculation without looking older.
Just as it helps adults to know what to expect with changes such as moving to a new home or working for a new company, kids should know about puberty ahead of time.
Many kids receive some sex education at school. Often, though, the lessons are segregated, and the girls hear primarily about menstruation and training bras while the boys hear about erections and changing voices. It’s important that girls learn about the changes boys go through and boys learn about those affecting girls, so check with teachers about their lesson plans so you know what gaps need to be filled. It’s a good idea to review the lessons with your child, since kids often still have questions about certain topics.
When talking to kids about puberty, it’s important to be reassuring. Puberty brings about so many changes that it’s easy for kids to feel insecure and alone.
Often, kids entering puberty feel insecure about their appearance, but it can help them to know that everyone goes through these changes, many of them awkward. They also should know that the timing of these changes can vary greatly. Acne, mood changes, growth spurts, and hormonal changes — it’s all part of growing up and everyone goes through it, but not always at the same pace.
Girls may begin puberty as early as second or third grade, and it can be upsetting if your daughter is the first one to get a training bra, for example. She may feel alone and awkward or like all eyes are on her in the school locker room.
With boys, changes include the cracking and then deepening of the voice, and the growth of facial hair. And just as with girls, if your son is an early bloomer, he may feel awkward or like he’s the subject of stares from his classmates.
Kids should know the following about puberty:
Not surprisingly, kids usually have lots of questions as they learn about puberty. It’s important to make sure you give your child the time and opportunity to ask questions — and answer them as honestly and thoroughly as possible.
Some of the most common questions are:
Let your child know that you’re available any time to talk. But it’s also important to initiate conversations, too. As a parent, it’s your job to try to discuss puberty — and the feelings associated with those changes — as openly as possible. While you might feel embarrassed or awkward discussing these sensitive topics, your child probably will be relieved to have you take the lead once in a while.
This can be easier if you’re confident that you know the subject matter. So before you answer your child’s questions, make sure your own questions have been answered. If you’re not entirely comfortable having a conversation about puberty, practice what you want to say first. Let your child know that it may be a little uncomfortable to discuss, but it’s an important talk to have.
If there are questions or concerns about puberty and development that you can’t answer, ask your child’s doctor for advice.
Big physical and emotional changes happen during puberty and the teen years. These articles can help you become a source of information, comfort, and support for your kids.
Everyone goes through puberty, even though it sometimes feels like you’re the only one!
If you’ve ever had an erection in an embarrassing situation, you’ve probably asked yourself this question. But erections are a perfectly normal function of the male body, especially in guys who are going through puberty.
Just about every guy wonders about the size of his penis at one time or another.
Where’s your Adam’s apple? Do you even have one? Find out in this article for kids.
When you’re growing up, lots of changes happen and everyone wonders: Am I normal?
Answering kids’ questions about sex is a responsibility many parents dread. But by answering these questions honestly, parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex.
Concerned about your growth or development? Puberty can be delayed for several reasons. Luckily, doctors usually can help teens with delayed puberty to develop more normally.
Girls have lots of questions about puberty and growing up. Find all the answers here!
You’ve lived through 2 AM feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why is the word “teenager” causing you so much anxiety?
As kids grow from grade-schoolers to preteens, there continues to be a wide range of “normal” as far as height, weight, and shape.
Girls have lots of questions about periods. Here are five good ones – and the all-important answers!
It’s normal to be a little worried or anxious about getting your period. Find out more in this article for kids.
Kids reaching puberty should already know what’s going to happen to their bodies. Here are some tips for talking to your daughter about menstruation.
On the way to becoming a man, a boy’s body will go through a lot of changes, including your body growing bigger, your voice changing, and hair sprouting everywhere. Find out more.
How do you like your height? Check out this article if you feel too tall or too short.
Precocious puberty – when signs of puberty start before age 7 or 8 in girls and age 9 for boys – can be tough for kids. But it can be treated.
Puberty was awkward enough when you were the one going through it. So how can you help your kids through all the changes?
Both boys and girls experience voice changes as they grow older, but it’s the boys that will notice the biggest difference. Find out more in this article for kids.
Yesterday, your son sounded like he’s always sounded – like a boy. But today, you heard that first crack in his voice. It’s the larynx (or voice box) that’s causing all that noise.
Voice cracking? Clothes don’t fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn’t have to be. Read all about it in this article for kids.
Understanding the male reproductive system and what it does can help you better understand your son’s reproductive health.
What makes up a guy’s reproductive system and how does it develop? Find the answers to these questions and more.
Getting a period is a natural part of becoming a woman. Find out more in this article for kids.
Voice cracking? Clothes don’t fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn’t have to be. Read all about it.
Lots of girls and guys worry about when their bodies will develop. The fact is that physical development starts at different times and moves along at different rates in normal kids.
Learning about the female reproductive system, what it does, and the problems that can affect it can help you better understand your daughter’s reproductive health.
The idea of going to the gynecologist may make your daughter feel nervous. Here’s how to make her feel more comfortable about a well-woman visit.
Girls grow breasts as they develop and mature. And once a girl has breasts, she probably will want to wear a bra. Find out more in this article just for kids.
Kids entering puberty will undergo many changes in their developing bodies. Find out more about what to expect.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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