When your teen stops playing with toys and begins to slam doors and spend most of their time glued to their smartphone, it is likely that puberty is about to arrive. Typically, puberty starts between the ages of 9–14. For some teens, the transformation takes place suddenly and overnight, while others enter puberty without any major turmoil. For the teen, this period of life can be exciting, but it can also raise a number of questions, which you as an adult should answer in an encouraging and loving manner.
You should start to discuss topics related to puberty, such as menstruation, hair growth, and sexuality, well in advance, when the parent-child relationship is still straightforward and it still feels natural to talk about any subject. Puberty and the related changes should be talked about in a positive sense, even if the truth can sometimes be very different. A teen going through the ups and downs of puberty needs supportive comments about their appearance as they are in the process of establishing their self-image. Complimenting and encouraging your child is an excellent way to boost their self-esteem in the midst of the transformation. You should remind your child that every teen develops at their own pace, and children of the same age go through physical changes at different times.
Talk about the physical changes openly and use your own experiences as an example. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about these subjects, instead use these discussions as a chance to reminiscence about your own puberty. What did your first period feel like? How did you feel when you bought your first bra? How did your first crush make you feel?
You should discuss with the teen what it means when the body starts to mature into the body of an adult. Tell your child that the arrival of a period means that they can get pregnant. Adulthood means more responsibilities, but also more liberties and new opportunities. Intimidation and threats are not the most effective means of communication; you should talk about these issues with your teen openly, while fully respecting the innocence and inexperience of your child.
Puberty is often accompanied by mood swings, which can sometimes even take comic turns. Communication, love and boundaries – remember these three principles and your child’s teen years may even bring you and your child closer together.