Ololade Hector- Fowobaje
Talking to your child about puberty as part of a comprehensive sexual education is crucial to helping them understand the changes their body is undergoing better.
Find key things you should discuss below…
Start With the Basics
Maintaining eye-control, and in a relaxed tone and mien, shed light on the changes taking place in their bodies as a result of puberty, reassuring them it’s only a developmental phase. Read up if you have to and don’t forget to share your own experiences. Invite your spouse to share his with your son.
Even when your child has not attained puberty, it does a world of good to prepare him or her by telling what to expect and how to handle the situation. Remember to add that everyone, male or female, experiences puberty, how early they do and the pace at which the changes which come with it occur may however differ.
Here are some of the changes you should state:
‘Spurt’ is the word used to describe a short burst of activity, something that happens in a hurry. And a growth spurt is just that; their body growing, and it happens so fast that their body feels alien. Let them know this lasts for about 2 to 3 years and at its peak, some may grow 4 or more inches in a year.
Growing taller comes with other changes too. They will add weight and start to notice changes in their overall body shape. Boys’ shoulders usually grow wider, and their bodies will become more muscular. Their voices will become deeper. For some boys, the breasts may grow a bit, but for most, this growth goes away by the end of puberty. Boys will notice other changes too, like the lengthening and widening of the penis and the enlargement of the testes. All of these changes mean their bodies are developing as expected during puberty.
Girls’ bodies usually become curvier. They gain weight on their hips, and their breasts develop, starting with just a little swelling under the nipple. Sometimes, one breast may develop faster than the other, but most of the time, they soon even out. With all this growing and developing going on, girls will notice an increase in body fat and occasional soreness under the nipples as the breasts start to enlarge. This is normal. Usually, about 2 to 2½ years after girls’ breasts start to develop they get their first menstrual period. See how to educate your daughter about her periods here.
Note that you must tell that gaining some weight is part of developing into a woman, and it’s unhealthy for girls to go on a diet to try to stop this normal weight gain. If they ever have questions or concerns about their weight, they must raise it with you to schedule a visit to your doctor.
Well, maybe not everywhere. However, one of the first signs of puberty is hair growth where it wasn’t before. Boys and girls both begin to grow hair under their arms and in their pubic areas (on and around the genitals). It starts out looking light and sparse. Then as they go through puberty, it becomes longer, thicker, heavier, and darker. Eventually, boys also start to grow hair on their faces. Of course, you should also let them know that this is normal and educate them on hygienic practices to keep these growths germ free.
Another thing that comes with puberty is acne or pimples. Acne is triggered by puberty hormones. Pimples usually start around the beginning of puberty and can stick around during adolescence (the teen years). They may notice pimples on their face, upper back, or upper chest. It helps to encourage them to keep their skin clean. Your health practitioner should be able to offer some suggestions for clearing up acne. The good news about acne is, it usually gets better or disappears by the end of adolescence.
A lot of teens notice they have a new smell under their arms and elsewhere on their bodies when they attain puberty, and it’s not usually a pleasant one. Keeping clean is a good way to lessen this smell. Tell them they need to take a shower in the morning and at night before bed time on a daily basis. Using deodorant every day can help keep body odour in check also.
Girls may see and feel a white, mucous-like discharge from the vagina. This doesn’t mean something is wrong, it’s yet another sign of your baby girl’s changing body and hormones. Don’t hesitate to tell her so.
Boys will also start to get erections (when the penis fills with blood and becomes hard). See how to help your growing son understand his erections here.
In conclusion, don’t forget to emphasise that how quickly puberty changes occur differ and there’s no need to feel inferior or overgrown.