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One day you’ll look up and your little baby boy or girl will have a mustache, breasts, deep voice, or a period. It’s puberty — the change, the time when many parents say to me, “What happened to my baby?”
I have been a middle school educator/counselor for 14 years and have spoken to many parents about the changes they see in their kiddos around this time. It’s challenging! Their moods change, they are way more independent (no more kisses at the front door of the school), and they may even be a little smelly. It’s important, though, to discuss these changes with your children, so they can be well-informed about their bodies and that you, as the parent, can guide them through this process.
Here are some questions to ask your child and some tips to handle this parenting season as you notice the changes happening right before your eyes:
What questions do you have about your body? Be open and ready for questions about sex, sexual organs, and more uncomfortable topics. Create a safe space for them to be as open as possible. It’s probably best that they get this information from you first before being informed (or misinformed) by their friends and/or the Internet.
If you’re searching for helpful books to guide you and your kiddo through these discussions, I recommend Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too): The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls and Growing up Great: The Ultimate Puberty Book for Boys.
How do you feel about the changes taking place in your body? As a social/emotional professional, children experiencing puberty will have many changes on the outside of their body and simultaneously will have many changes going on in the inside as well. You may notice that they are more sensitive and easily agitated. It’s normal.
Create a space for your child to release his or her emotions. Journaling is a great tool. Also, having a space in your child’s room where he or she can retreat when your child feels overwhelmed with emotion. This can be the calm down space where he or she has favorite music, yoga mat, favorite books, journal, etc. Be sure to regroup after the calm down to discuss what happened and how it made everyone feel.
Create puberty kits for your boy or girl to begin the conversation. Here’s what to include:
Female Puberty Kit
- Pads or panty liners (or any menstrual product)
- Chamomile tea (my favorite tea!)
- Electric heating pad
- Deodorant (I am a fan of Tom’s of Maine Aluminum-Free Wicked Cool, Natural Deoderant for Girls)
- Perfume or feminine spray (essential oil rollers are a great option)
- Feminine wash and/or wipes
- Product carrier (something fun but practical that fits inside backpack or purse)
- Chocolate (for a fun treat!)
Male Puberty Kit
- Deodorant (I am a fan of Tom’s of Maine Aluminum-Free Wicked Cook Natural Deodorant for Boys)
- Facial hair grooming set (razors, shaving cream, after shave, facial moisturizer)
- Cologne or body spray (essential oil rollers are a great option too)
- Hair tools (comb, brush, pomade, gel, etc.)
The golden rule as parents during this time is to be prepared and be open. Hopefully, your child feels most comfortable with you and can ask you anything. As moms and dads this is our ultimate hope, but we have to create that environment in our homes. Puberty is a difficult time for parents and teens, but it is beautiful as well. Watching our children grow into womanhood and manhood is an exciting time. Let’s embrace it!