From expert teenologist Sarah Newton
“Being able to talk to your parents openly about how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing is really important, it’s just difficult sometimes...”
TOP TIPS FOR TALKING TO YOUR TEENAGERS ABOUT PUBERTY
- Remember what this conversation is really about. While on the surface it is about puberty, it is really about helping your child respect and accept their changing body and love themselves more. It is a conversation about empowerment and choice, and what better conversation is there to have?
- Be honest, if you are finding it challenging, say so; you don’t have to have all the answers here, you are just the facilitator of the conversation. Be truthful and let your child know your intentions and how you are feeling. This is a team effort, not a top-down conversation, so start as you mean to go on.
- Ask your child how they would best like to have this conversation. Let them know it is important for you to have it, but ask them what is best for them. Would they like to go somewhere other than the house, would they like some information first, then the talk? What works well for them? If your child is more introvert and quiet in nature they may prefer to research first and ask questions, rather than have this be the full-blown conversation that a more gregarious child may be happy with.
- Find a hook. Find something in the media lately that you can hook this to; maybe it’s an lnstagram post you saw, or something you heard about, or an advert. Puberty is always in the spotlight in some way. Use these things you find as a hook to start the conversation.
- Take the pressure off yourself, this doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to know it all and get it all right, you just need to start the conversation.
- Get support if you are finding starting this conversation difficult. Get some support for yourself, a friend or a family member that you can talk to who can give you good constructive advice is always helpful.
- Get yourself prepared so you feel confident for the conversation; the fact you are reading these tips is a great start. If you feel that you need more Information, here are some other great places you can look: www.childline.org.uk, www.youngminds.org.uk, www.bullylng.co.uk, and www.toxicshock.com
- Remember: this is a conversation that doesn’t happen once then stop. Start talking openly about puberty as early as you can and answer your child’s questions honestly when they ask them. The sooner you can start, the better and the less awkward it becomes later on.
- If you are a single parent to a child of a different gender, don’t assume they don’t want to talk to you about puberty, Just ask them. A lot of teenage boys I have spoken to would be more than happy to discuss puberty with their mums. Ask them what they would prefer.
- Don’t make it serious; while this may be an important conversation, it doesn’t have to be serious. Lighten the conversation as much as you can, it will put both of you at ease!