Why does my 4th grader need a puberty talk?

February 8, 2016
 / 
Leslie Dixon
 / 

Why does my 4th grader need a puberty talk?First of all, let us set the record straight, the “puberty talk” is completely different from the “where babies come from” talk. Puberty – the physical and emotional changes every child experiences on the road to adulthood – does not start when a girl gets her period. It usually begins about two years beforehand. Can you imagine a nine- or ten-year-old who is beginning to become aware of some strange and unusual things happening to her body and not know why?

When I ask mothers in my Puber-Tea classes if they received any information and parental support when they were going through puberty, approximately 90% say, “no.” They often share they remember feeling afraid, overwhelmed, and unprepared. When I ask the remaining 10% what it was like receiving parental support and education, they say it helped them to feel more prepared and comfortable going through puberty. If a mom did not receive any puberty education when she was her daughter’s age, how would she know that those crazy emotional changes or having to buy her daughter new shoes every two months are the beginnings of puberty?

If a parent does not have a puberty talk with their daughter, where would a girl get the information needed to feel comfortable and prepared? In most cases, nowhere. Currently, most schools think it appropriate to begin addressing these topics in 7th grade. On the contrary, helping children feel prepared and knowledgeable about basic changes earlier would support a more positive self-esteem and self-image. Instead, kids enter puberty around nine- or ten-years-old dealing with all kinds of physical and emotional changes and have no information. With the proper education and support, they could understand they are not alone on this challenging journey we call puberty and adolescence.

Young girls especially are beginning the first stages of puberty at younger and younger ages. It is not uncommon for a nine-year-old to be experiencing the first bloom of puberty, including emotional changes, feet getting bigger, more sweat and the first stages of hair growth on her body; not to mention the real possibility of breast buds beginning to develop.

I realize parents want to think their nine-year-old is still their “sweet little,” but in reality they have now entered the tween stage (neither a child nor a teen but somewhere in between). This might be hard to believe, but very real. Now, that being said, due to genes and hormones every child will begin puberty at his or her own stage. For many parents, the changes can be very subtle and they might not even be aware that they are happening until multiple changes occur or Huffington Post does an expose on the signs of puberty.

If your daughter (or son) exhibit any of these signs, puberty has begun:

  • Emotional changes: I often refer to as the “emotional rollercoaster”’
    • Sad, mad, grumpy, frustrated, hungry, cranky and attitude
  • Physical changes: feet getting bigger, more sweat, fine growth of hair, getting taller, breast buds (one might start to grow before the other)

So what is a parent to do?

Our courses help parents make the experience easy, very comfortable and give parents the tools to have ongoing conversations in the future. They also help parents to have a stronger connection with their child which translates into an easier transition through puberty and adolescence. If these important conversations do not happen, the dysfunctional cycle can continue and a child might feel alone and isolated on the journey through puberty and adolescence. This, in turn, could affect their self-esteem and self-image. Also, opening the door for ongoing conversations starting at puberty encourages children to ask questions rather than going to peers or social media for the answers they seek.

What kind of experience would you like your son or daughter to have during puberty and adolescence? One where they feel alone, uncomfortable, unsure, disgusted, fearful and misinformed? Or, one where you and your child experience what it is to go through puberty informed, empowered and properly prepared for any of the challenges that might show up? Find out what over 11,000 parents already know, why our courses make a lasting and meaningful difference in the quality of the relationships with their kids. Sign up today!

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