This module introduces the topic of puberty and explores how children develop physically, psychosocially, and cognitively during this time. Often, parents/caregivers are not comfortable talking with children about the changes they experience during puberty and, consequently, leave children to figure things out on their own. As a parent/guardian, what do you think would be important to tell a child about puberty? Describe at least one thing you would explain from each of the following categories:
During puberty, your body will go through a series of changes as you transition from a child to an adult. These physical changes are completely normal and signify that your body is maturing. One important thing to explain is the growth spurt that happens during puberty. Let your child know that it’s common to experience a rapid increase in height and weight during this time. They might feel clumsy or awkward as their body adjusts to these changes, but reassure them that it’s a natural part of growing up.
Another physical change to discuss is the development of secondary sexual characteristics. Explain that girls will typically observe the growth of breasts, while boys will notice the enlargement of their testicles and the penis. Both boys and girls will start growing hair in new places, such as under their arms and in the genital area. Let them know that these changes are normal and that everyone goes through them at their own pace.
In addition to the physical changes, puberty also brings about significant psychosocial changes. Explain to your child that they might start experiencing new emotions and intense mood swings. Discuss the hormonal fluctuations that occur during puberty, affecting their mood and sometimes making them more susceptible to feeling sadness, anger, or irritability. Encourage open communication and let them know that it’s okay to express their emotions. Also, emphasize that it’s important to be patient with themselves as they navigate these new feelings.
Peer relationships become increasingly important during puberty. Talk to your child about the changes they might observe in their friendships and the dynamics of social groups. Explain that while some friendships may deepen, others may change or even dissolve. Assure them that it’s normal for friendships to evolve during this time, and encourage them to maintain open lines of communication with their friends.
Puberty not only affects the physical and emotional aspects of development, but it also has an impact on cognitive functions. Discuss with your child the changes they may notice in their ability to think and reason. Explain that their brain is undergoing significant development, which may result in improved problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and abstract reasoning. Encourage them to embrace these changes and take advantage of the new cognitive abilities that come with puberty.
It’s also important to discuss with your child the topic of sexual development and changes in sexual attraction during puberty. Explain that they may start experiencing feelings of attraction towards others, which is a normal part of growing up. Encourage them to ask questions and provide accurate information about sex, relationships, consent, and safe practices. Be honest, open, and non-judgmental in these discussions, creating a safe space for them to ask questions and seek guidance.
Overall, it’s important to approach the topic of puberty with empathy, understanding, and open communication. Make it clear to your child that you are there to support and answer any questions they may have. By providing accurate information about the physical, psychosocial, and cognitive changes that occur during puberty, you can help them navigate this transitional period with confidence and clarity.