Here’s why you should talk to your teens about physical changes
Parents can prepare their teenagers-to-be for the physical changes they will experience when they reach puberty so they won't suffer maladjustment.
One of my lady friends shared with me and our friends what happened to her twelve-year-old daughter the other day. She was sobbing and was shouting “Mummy, mummy, help!” from the bathroom. Hearing her daughter cry for help, she panicked and immediately went to her. When she arrived at the bathroom, she saw her daughter’s hand stained with blood.
In between sobs, her daughter said, “Mummy, I’m bleeding and I’m afraid I’m going to die! I don’t want to die yet, Mummy. Help me!” She embraced her daughter and tried to console her. She almost wanted to laugh but tried so hard not to hurt her daughter’s feelings. Later, she explained to her daughter what the cause of her bleeding was and assured her that there is no reason to be afraid.
It made me wonder how parents could prepare their teenagers-to-be for the physical changes that they will experience when they reach puberty. Most teens are unprepared for the changes and many of them become disturbed. Puberty becomes a stressful time for them as well as for their parents. So, what should parents do?
Talk to your teens about physical changes
The best way to help teens make a smooth transition from late childhood to early adolescence is for parents to talk to their children about the physical changes that will happen when reaching puberty.
Since puberty happens as early 8 years old for girls and 10 years old for boys, children should know the specific body changes which are part of their normal physical development. But first of all, parents need to be knowledgeable about it.
The physical changes that parents should understand and children should expect include sudden and extreme growth spurts, appearance of pimples, development of body odour, breast development and onset of menstruation for girls, and appearance of facial and body hair and nocturnal emissions for boys. Parents should also explain the consequences of these changes and their appropriate attitude towards them.
At 10 to 12 years old, girls undergo sudden and extreme growth, which is two years earlier than in boys who experience it at 12 to 14 years old. This physical change may cause teenagers to be clumsy when walking. Another effect may be uneven facial features such as a big nose. When teenagers undergo such, parents should tolerate their clumsiness and not become critical.
Breast development may occur to girls who are 10 years old and menstruation may happen to girls who are 12 or 13 years old. However, these changes may cause much anxiety if they are not prepared for them. Research shows that if they are unprepared, they might have problems with menstruation.
Best to share personal experiences with them
Thus, parents especially mothers need to share with their daughters their own experiences with menstruation and to provide support and guidance. Daughters must be told how to take care of themselves when having their menstrual period. In addition, mothers should not talk about it in front of their spouse and fathers are advised not to say anything about it to their daughters.
For boys, the appearance of facial and body hair, changes in voice, the enlargement of testes at the age of 11 or 12 and the first experience of an ejaculation at age 12 to 14 may baffle them. Research implies that they should be informed on these possible changes so they won’t be shocked when they happen.
Other minor physical changes that girls and boys need to be aware of are, the appearance of pimples and the development of body odour. When they understand these things, they won’t have to fret over when a pimple appears on their face and they will become conscious of their hygiene to avoid body odour.
Though these changes may generally occur within the estimated time, there are youngsters who might experience them early or late. It is recommended that parents reassure their teens and explain to them that there are factors that affect the beginning and advancement of puberty.
So, there is no reason for them to worry and to compare themselves with others who are experiencing or are not yet experiencing these changes. Finally, as parents, let us open up these things to our children for this could make or break their adjustment to their physical development.