by Dr. Jessica Shepherd
Navigating puberty can be tricky for both children and parents but starting a clear line of communication is important in order to foster positive and healthy puberty experiences.
How to Educate Your Child About Puberty
Once a teen starts going through puberty, navigating bodily changes – along with the dialogue that comes with it – can be difficult for all parents. These unknown experiences might feel overwhelming for your child and confusing for you to address. That is normal! To alleviate the anxiety around puberty discussions, it is helpful to start by creating an open space to talk about them. Check in with your kids and welcome any and all conversations. Be real with them. Establishing a clear line of communication is incredibly important for family dynamics down the road.
When is the right time and what topics to cover when talking about puberty?
I frequently hear from parents asking for guidance on which puberty topics to cover first. When your child is young, the body is a great place to start. It is never too early to introduce your kid to the proper names of body parts. When you focus on helping your child understand how their body works, you empower them to keep their body healthy, and to become more self-aware as they grow. That way, they are more prepared when changes occur during puberty.
As you approach more of these conversations, I recommend addressing topics like personal hygiene and hormonal changes that lead to things like hair growth and menstruation. Throughout puberty, remind your children that all these changes are normal and natural, and that it is important to ask questions.
Educating your child and talking about periods
The more you can educate your child about puberty the better prepared they will be. Although some puberty experiences, like menstruation, can be a bit difficult to manage, I encourage you to keep a positive tone when explaining this topic. Remind them that periods are a natural and important part of the circle of life! By shattering stigmas around period shame and silence, we can guide females to understand what is or is not normal and empower them to talk to their doctor in order to keep everything healthy. As your child prepares for their first period, relieve any concerns by educating them on the resources and products available to females who experience periods.
Walk them through the range of period products available from Kotex®, and how to use these products properly. Check out the Kotex® Period Calculator, an easy-to-use tool that helps females and women who menstruate better understand their cycle and keep an eye on any irregularities.
In the end, openly approaching puberty questions will help lead your child to a healthy and confident life. When in doubt, do not hesitate to talk to a doctor about this exciting time in their life.
About Dr. Jessica Shepherd: Dr. Jessica Shepherd is an OB/GYN, women's health expert and the founder of Her Viewpoint, an online women's health forum that focuses on addressing taboo topics in a comfortable setting. She currently practices at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
The advice provided in this material is general in nature and is not intended as medical advice. If you need medical advice, please consult your health care professional.