Written by Lori Reichel, Ph.D. | Reviewed by Hina J. Talib, MD
As a parent or caregiver, having a young person in your life go through the stages of puberty can be both exciting and challenging to navigate. Understanding and embracing the changes they will experience will help you navigate the next few years. You can learn to not just survive the teenage years, but thrive through them together.
What Is Puberty?
Puberty is a time when your young person’s body changes as it prepares for sexual maturity. They usually start going through these changes around 8-10 years old, and continue to go through changes for the next 5-7 years. Everyone develops at their own pace, however, so don’t be concerned if your child doesn’t enter puberty at the exact same time as their friends.
Experts call the puberty stages the Tanner Stages of puberty or the Sexual Maturity Rating. During a period of 5-7 years, your young person will grow and develop pubic hair, armpit hair, breasts and uterine/vaginal development in those assigned female at birth, and penis, scrotum and testicle growth in those assigned male at birth.
Learn more about the stages of puberty with our deep dive into the 5 stages of puberty.
Supporting Your Tween or Teen Through Puberty
Here are some tips:
- Refer to the resources available to you to best support your and your child’s health. Check with their schools, within the community, online, and here at BLOOM.
- Teach and support healthy hygiene habits within your household.
- Keep communication lines open.
- Create household expectations as a family and hold your entire house accountable to these expectations.
- Create an environment that fosters healthy self-esteem and body positivity.
- Respect personal space and the need for privacy.
Learn more about how you can support your child through the stages of puberty.
Tips for the Puberty Talk
If you wonder when you should have the “puberty talk,” many experts recommend talking with your young person before they go through the actual changes of puberty. This will help them prepare mentally for the physical, mental, emotional, and social changes to come.
Some tips for the puberty talk:
- Choose a safe, comfortable location that offers some privacy to initiate the talk. Find a time when you are relaxed over a stressful time, like after homework.
- Use teachable moments in life to chat about puberty. This could be something on TV, a conversation, or something else.
- Encourage your young person to express their feelings to you or another trusted caregiver. For neurodivergent youth who may have trouble expressing their feelings, download a feelings chart (courtesy of Social Thinking) to help them navigate how they are feeling.
- Know when to reach out for help. This could be within your own parent or caregiver network or even seeking guidance from a professional. If you have concerns, ask for support.
Get more tips on how to talk to your children about puberty.
Puberty in Intersex Youth
If your young person is intersex, you may wonder what puberty is like for intersex individuals.
Intersex people are born with differences in physical sex traits such as chromosomes, hormone function, genitals, or internal reproductive anatomy. There are a wide range of variations that are possible compared to the usual two ways that human bodies develop.
How a young intersex person may go through puberty is going to be different than their peers, and remember that is okay! Everyone has differences, and no two bodies will ever go through exactly the same changes in exactly the same way. Learn more about puberty in intersex teens.
Ready to elevate your parenting? Become a member of the BLOOM family today!
Gain access to workshops, coaching, and a network of supportive parents. Don’t navigate this journey alone –
Navigating Mood Swings
Teen mood swings are a part of growing up, partially due to the release of hormones during puberty. The key to mood swings is not preventing them entirely, but helping your tween or teen deal with them in a healthy way.
Some tips include:
- Schedule regular household meetings
- Eat meals together
- Create household rules and expectations
- Share responsibilities
- Hold everyone accountable
Learn more about how to navigate teen mood swings and support them through puberty.
Support With Puberty & Gender Dysphoria
Remember that a young person who does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth can experience some emotional difficulty, confusion, angst, and body dysmorphia if they are developing in a way that is not aligned with how they feel inside.
If this is the case, your preteen or teen is not alone. Find a doctor who will be supportive in accessing resources that are available to you and your preteen or teen, which will help you both navigate any challenges that come with puberty. Visit BLOOM’s Gender Identity section to learn more and access supportive resources.
Explore More on Supporting Tweens & Teens Through Puberty
If you are still feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry! BLOOM is here to help. With our library of On-Demand Workshops with our trusted educators, to our Ask the Expert Forum & Live Events where you can get answers to your burning questions from our qualified professionals, to Supportive Community, where you can find strength in a community of other parents and caregivers, to Direct 1-on-1 Parent Coaching Support, we’ve got you. Raising tweens or teens is hard enough. BLOOM is here to make it a little easier.