Common Teenage Puberty Questions

With teenage puberty, and preteen development, questions arise that parents should know how to answer in advance. Being prepared when your child reaches puberty can make your child's transition from childhood to adulthood a little easier.

When should I start talking to my kids about puberty?
When teens begin to wonder about changes to their bodies, parents should explain the role of hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, which play a key role in adolescent development. Interest in the opposite sex is also common at this age, so setting expectations for behavior is important.

What do I need to discuss specifically with girls?
Changes that occur in girls include mood swings, overactive sweat glands and secondary sex characteristic development. Mood swings are brought about by hormonal changes. Be sure that your daughter knows these feelings are normal. Overactive sweat glands produce oily skin, hair and odor. Teach your daughter proper skin care and hygiene. Changes in nipples and breast development, and the growth of hair in the armpit and genital area are other normal developments. If your daughter wants a bra, get her one. She may not need one yet, but, if it helps her feel less self-conscious, it is okay to support her. With a slight weight gain, the waist and hip area will appear curvier. Also, before it happens, be sure to discuss the menstrual cycle and how she should care for herself during her period.

What do I need to discuss specifically with boys?
Testosterone brings about changes in boy's moods and bodies as well. Mood swings, as with girls, are common as a result of hormone surges. Boys will begin to grow facial, armpit and genital hair, and their glands will produce more sweat and oil. As with girls, stress hygiene and skin care. Boys will notice their voices starting to sound different, so make sure they know that these changes are normal and will resolve over time. Penis and testicular growth, erections and possible seminal emissions during sleep are also normal, and pubescent boys should be alerted to these possibilities before they occur, in order to avoid any alarm or shame.

How should I discuss sexual activity?
The basics of sexuality should be addressed well before a teen hits the age of sexual activity. Don't assume that advocating abstinence is enough to make it happen. Your child is looking to you for guidance, support and understanding. If you act ashamed or embarrassed, he will think that sexuality is something to feel ashamed over. Also, it's important for parents to know the differences between intimate behavior and intercourse, and they need to make the boundaries between the two clear.

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