When your child’s body begins to change and develop and they become sexually mature, it is a sign that they are transitioning into an adult. This stage is called puberty. Usually, it starts between 8 and 14 years but some children may bloom early or late.
As a parent, puberty conversations would be awkward for you too. However, it is a necessary one. Here are some useful tips to help you support your child through puberty.
State the Facts
Children get curious to have conversations about these changes and sexuality. They are most likely to gather information about menstruation, hair growth on the body, genital areas, erections, voice changes and body odour from their friends, social media or other online resources. However, they may get misrepresented information.
Hence, you should have an honest and open-minded conversation with them and state the facts as they are without beating around the bush. You can also ask them to read books on puberty. A few book recommendations are:
- What’s Happening to Me?
The puberty stage is an emotional roller-coaster ride for your children. The physical and hormonal changes in their body confuse or worry them. They are afraid to voice their concerns out of embarrassment or self-consciousness. They wonder if these changes are normal. They may compare themselves to their peers.
You must assure them that puberty is a normal process that every boy or girl goes through, albeit at their own pace. Help them develop confidence in their self-image.
Encourage Healthy Lifestyle
As children become adolescents, their physical activity starts decreasing due to academic burden. At the same time, their appetite may also increase according to age. These two factors when combined with puberty changes may affect their health.
Hence, you must encourage your child to do at least 15-30 minutes of exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet every day. They must also follow a good and consistent sleep routine.
Lookout for Warning Signs
Your children may become moody, anxious, depressed or aggressive during puberty years. They may also attempt smoking, drugs or alcohol. They may start underperforming in academics or get into fights with friends.
If you notice such behaviour, hold a gentle conversation with them and try to find out the cause. Make them trust you to open up to you. Take appropriate actions to support them or reinforce positive behaviour.
There are moments when children going through puberty just need a lending ear and someone to understand them. They don’t need any words of wisdom or judgement. When such moments occur, make sure to listen to your children with empathy.
These days, schools also conduct sessions on puberty for higher classes. Make sure your children attend them because such sessions are usually conducted by child psychology or child counselling professionals.
Puberty is a normal phase of life and every child goes through it. Just be there to hold your child’s hand when they need it.