Why You Must Talk About Puberty (and How to Do It)

Affiliate Links “Dear Mrs. Taylor, We’re moving in March so I was wondering if you could teach puberty before we move?”

I taught puberty to my 5th graders for many years. For the majority of my students, it was new information. (As implied by the letter above.) And, for some students, it was too late. About 15% of girls are starting puberty as young as age seven!

My students felt like they could ask me anything because they trusted and knew me. Most questions I answered. But, some questions should be answered by a parent, not a teacher.

“What do you do if you get your period at school?”

“Why do you get pimples?”

“Mrs. Taylor, how do lesbians have babies?”

“Does sex hurt?”

I assigned parents the homework of talking to their children about everything. Because we know that learners can’t just hear about something once and understand, they need repetition and context to remember.

But, don’t forget that another part of a child’s puberty education is the mis-education at recess.

When the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal made national news, many of my families, for obvious reasons, didn’t let their kids see the newspaper or the television news. But, despite their best efforts, it only took one kid in my class, who knew about the cigar incident, and everyone knew a version of what happened. Pretty soon, my 5th graders new more than I did — yuck!

So, let me gently remind you that you if your children are to understand the correct information about their bodies, it needs to come from you and more than once. Otherwise, they’ll get information from other sources, some correct and some not.

One of the best ways to talk to your kids about uncomfortable issues is to do it in the car. This scenaro means you don’t have to make eye contact. That makes is MUCH easier for them, as well as you.

Another way is to read a book together. (Side by side also means you don’t necessarily have to make eye contact — easier for the kids if they feel uncomfortable.) A book gives you an outline for what to talk about.

Books About Puberty

Then, check out these books on puberty (recommended by readers on the Imagination Soup Facebook page) and start the discussion about puberty with both boys and girls. And, talk about changes to the other gender as well.

Read the books WITH your kids. Then talk about what you read.

You might say, “This is uncomfortable to talk about isn’t it? But it’s part of growing up and understanding our bodies.”

Also, you could say, “Let’s get our giggles out now. Ready, go.”

The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls (American Girl Library)

My Little Red Book,  a book of first period stories, from Brimful Curiosities

It’s Not the Stork by Robie Harris

Ready, Set, Grow (for girls) by Lynda Madaras (for boys)

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris (for boys and girls) – recommended from Evangelina Valencia

The Boy’s Body Book by Kelli Dunham

What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Girls by Lynda Madaras

Get over the giggles and just do it. (If I could teach my class the parts of the male anatomy while being observed by my vice-principal (yes, true story!) then you can talk to your kids in the privacy of your own home. I promise.)

Also Read:
Starting the Sex Talk at any age
Have You Forgotten the MOST Important Safety Rule?

how to talk to your kids about puberty

  • http://wordplayhouse.com wordplayhouse™

    All good advice. I think it’s so important for the parent to be relaxed and treat the conversation as open and easy, just as if speaking about what they had for lunch or the weather. Children need to feel as much as possible that there isn’t embarrassment around the subject so they feel comfortable coming back to their parent for more questions or help.

  • http://PragmaticMom.com PragmaticMom

    Such good advice but such a squeamish topic for us moms. I gave my daughter a book on it and then did several q and a sessions. That worked pretty well for me and the questions she gave me were more technical in nature trying to understand a diagram of a uterus. I do think that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel as there are so many excellent books out there, but I think you have to talk about it face to face which is so HARD!

    This is the list of books that readers suggested to me:

    http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=2066

    We both picked The Care and Keeping of Me. I personally gave Understanding the Facts of Life to my daughter.

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  • http://www.brimfulcuriosities.com Janelle

    Will have to bookmark this post for the future. Seven? Yikes that’s young.

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