- Start talking with your child early. Early on children begin asking questions about little changes to their bodies. Toddlers ask an abundance of questions: "why, why, why?' Reassure your child that it's okay to ask questions by being open and honest with them and keep open the line of communication. As they get older, they will feel more comfortable coming to you with personal questions.
- Timing is Everything. Don't wait until it's too late to talk to your child about puberty. You should talk to your child between the ages of 9-11. You want to have the conversation with girls before they begin menstruating and before boys begin to experience their changes too. Puberty occurs at different times for all children.
- Know your Stuff. You want to provide your children with accurate information using correct terminology and avoiding slang. You may want to make a quick outline or checklist to make sure to cover all the necessary topics. Robert Crown with the Centers for Health Education provides a checklist for talking to children about puberty on his website to help guide you along the way. You may want to find references from the computer or visit the library for books that will help explain puberty to your child.
- Create a Special Separate Time to Have "the Talk." Make sure that this is personal. Don't try to talk to your child while watching tv or while playing a game. Make sure that you have their full attention and that they have yours. Plan to have some time alone and go for dinner, a movie or even a trip to the library or park. The ride there offers opportunity to start discussion and once you reach your destination if you are not finished talking. Stop. Park and continue your "talk."
- Take your Child to a Class. Local hospitals usually offer health classes for both boys and girls. You can find these classes listed on calendar of events for the hospitals. These classes take a lot of the stress of the caregiver because the instructors are well prepared and educated to address their audiences. St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales, Louisiana, offers "growing up" workshops for boys and girls. These workshops cover the changes that occur in adolescents as a result of puberty and are centered around creating open conversation among attendees, mother and daughter or father and son. These workshops are rotated monthly. The next growing up workshop is set for February is for girls and their mom or female caregiver. To learn more, visit our calendar of events.
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