Many caregivers have this question. To help answer this, consider the following:
- Follow your gut. If you first need to take some breaths to figure out what to say, take them. Just like any other conversation we have in which we feel nervous beforehand, we need to take a breath or two. Also, you might want to practice certain conversations beforehand, in the shower, or other times when you are alone. If you haven’t spoken to your young person much about reproductive parts, puberty, and other sexuality topics, they, too, are not used to these conversations – therefore, give yourself and your young person time.
- Answer questions as honestly as possible. Children find out when we do not tell the truth. And, upon finding this out, they usually will not return to ask more questions of us. Yet, if you don’t know an answer, go to a reliable resource with your young person to learn the answer together.
- If your young person has not approached you, approach them by letting them know you are aware they will go through changes in the future and you will always answer their questions. Some families provide their children with reliable books to read. Also, remember to utilize teachable moments when possible. For example, when something is shown or said in a movie about puberty, or any other sexuality topic, this is an opportune time to chat about the topic.
- Remember to be patient and reassure your young person that changes occur throughout life. And that the physical changes of puberty are natural and normal.
- One last thing– attempt to prompt your young person with questions that allow for conversations. Instead of asking, “What do you want to know about puberty?,” ask questions like: “What are you noticing about some kids who are growing older?” or “How do you feel about the future changes your body will go through?” Your young person still might not answer these questions easily, yet asking questions regarding their thoughts and feelings may allow them to talk a little easier.