Many health professionals recommend talking with them before they begin going through the actual changes of puberty. Reasons for talking before these events include:
- To prepare your young person for changes/occurrences they may not expect or are expecting yet they are nervous, anxious, or unprepared. Two events in particular are the first menstrual cycle (menarche) or experiencing wet dreams (nocturnal emissions). Some children who aren’t prepared for these events often think something is wrong with them once they occur. Seeing blood unexpectedly on one’s underwear has some young people thinking they are sick or dying. And waking up to a wet bed and pajamas makes some think they are reverting back to being a baby/toddler, when they used to urinate on their bed. Talking with your young person beforehand limits these thoughts and helps to prepare and empower your child with information of what to expect as their body grows and develops.
- To set the stage for more conversations. Think about it… talking about our body parts and everyday hygiene habits, including as we go through puberty, helps you and your young person communicate. Research tells us that our children want to hear from us, their caregivers, about these real life events. And having these talks now increases the chances that this communication will continue when more serious decision making is needed, including the decisions your child will make in future romantic and/or sexual relationships.