Hair growing in places they never knew existed. Acne. Breasts Getting Bigger. Wet dreams. Periods and cramping. Erections when they least expect them. Being overly emotional about almost everything. Weight gain. Smelly armpits and feet. Attraction to the opposite sex. Plus sex and where babies come from. All of these things can give parents a wicked migraine that can last a lifetime just thinking about having to talk about these issues.
How do you think kids feel?
My oldest was 7 years when he asked about sex. I was pregnant at the time so of course, he wanted to know how his little brother got into my belly. But some kids won’t ask questions until they are much older. How and when do parents know it’s time to talk about puberty and sex with their kids and what should parents know before hand?
Talking About The Change (Puberty)
- The first thing is to talk openly with your child. Age 9 is a good time to broach the subject. Puberty can start as early as 9 and go until a child is 15 or 16. Make sure your child is prepared before hand so they know what to expect.
- Mood swings affect both boys and girls. Be patient. Be understanding. Being emotional is a big part of puberty.
- If you have a girl, make sure she is prepared to get her period. Pack an extra change of clothing + feminine products for her to use in case she gets her period at school or a friend’s house.
- Boys should be taught about periods as well, and to be respectful and understanding about the changes girl’s go through, just as their own body changes. Sensitivity to this topic is important.
- Wet dreams and unwanted erection are gonna happen. It’s completely normal. No boy wants to get a surprise erection at school and not know how to deal with it. So make sure your boys are prepared with understanding on what is happening to their bodies.
- Masturbation is also normal for both sexes. Privacy is key. Boundaries should be set. Parents should knock before entering a child’s room and masturbation should be done in private and taught that feeling good about our bodies is a normal part of growing up.
- Respect for others and their privacy is also important. Each child develops at a different age. Teasing should never happen. Help your kids be mindful of the changes their peers are going through just as they are.
- Some kids get very shy and won’t talk to their parents. They don’t even want to discuss the changes their bodies are going through. Ask a family friend, counsellor or even grab a book from the library to help with this.
If you are a mom of boys like I am, a great book to show your child is by Jarrod Sechler called “It’s Great to be a guy!” My son loved reading this book and we had a good laugh at smelly feet and socks, body changes and how NOT fun puberty can be.
Sex & How Much Information Is Too Much?
- You know your child and what they can handle. So when talking about sex use age specific materials. A 9 year old doesn’t need as much information as say a 16 year old wanting to know about sex. Kids will also ask you the same questions over and over as their brain gathers the information, so this is a topic best left open.
- If your child asks about sex – be honest about it. Use the right terminology for body parts and actions. Don’t sugar coat things.
- Always make sure your kids know that sex should NEVER be forced. Sex is consensual. No means no and nobody should ever be pressured into having sex until they are ready.
- Sex is different for boys than it is for girls. Boys should always be taught to be respectful of their partner’s feelings. To be caring, loving and supportive. Sex feels good but it can also be an emotional experience with emotions stronger than young adults realize. Make sure your kids are prepared and understand this.
- Safe sex is the only way to be prepared. If your child is having sex at 16 and you don’t buy condoms they won’t use them. This is how teen pregnancies happen. Forget what other parents think. Make sure your sons and daughters are prepared to protect themselves from both diseases and pregnancies if you know sex is going to happen.
- There are no secrets in family. Kids should always know it is never okay for someone to touch them inappropriately and then ask them to keep it a secret. This talk should be had with your kids at a much younger age.
No matter what you do it is your responsibility as parents to make sure your kids are prepared and have the knowledge they need about puberty and sex, no matter how uncomfortable the topic is to discuss. Remember what it was like when you were a kid. Relate to it, and put yourself in your child’s shoes. Be open and honest, supportive and emotional and above all give your kids the guidance they need to be strong, confident and prepared as they go through the changes in life.