As a mum, it’s probably hard to believe that it wasn’t so long ago that you were fussing over ear infections, sore throats and fevers. However, time flies and now you are faced with another set of challenges. And this time, they have come guised in the form of puberty!
Girls will generally experience the challenges of puberty between the ages of 10 and 12 and not surprisingly, it tends to happen a little bit later for boys (between 12 and 15 years of age). Although, like any developmental milestones, there is a wide range for what can be considered normal. Regardless of where your tween is on the spectrum of physical development, they are more than likely talking about it with their friends. So, if you’re a parent of a preteen, if you haven’t already sat your child down for “the talk” you may want to consider doing so!
Helping your tween understand sexuality
Schools often take a very active role in educating kids about human development and sexuality but it’s still important that parents take a lead role in the conversation. Tweens need to know about the emotional and physical consequences of becoming sexually active, such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and a range of feelings.
Early discussion of these issues can help your child avoid feeling pressurised to become sexually active before being ready.
According to experts, young people are less likely to take sexual risks if they have:
A positive view of sexuality
An understanding that they need to look after their sexual health
A clear understanding of their values and their families values
Good self-esteem and self-confidence
Well-developed interpersonal skills such as assertiveness and decision making abilities
A connection to home, family and other caring adults in their community or school
Kids really want to learn from their parents
Research has shown that kids want to learn about sex and sexuality from their parents. It’s important to have the conversation with your children sooner rather than later so they will have heard it from you first rather than finding out inaccurate information in the schoolyard.
What should you share with tweens?
You should bear in mind that the pre-teen years generally spans a three or four-year period (9-12). Younger tweens won’t need as much information as older tweens. Experts advise that tweens should know the following:
Adolescent development:
How female and male bodies grow and differ
How puberty begins at different times for boys and girls and how each individual is different
How to be comfortable with their changing bodies, especially in relation to children their own age
What menstruation and wet dreams are
How to take care of their personal hygiene during menstruation
That emotional changes are common during this time
Sexual behaviour
The importance of accepting human sexuality and their own sexual feelings as a part of life
That people have sex for pleasure and not just to have a baby
That masturbation is normal and very common, but only in private
What sexually transmitted infections are
How to talk about and practice safer sex
What rape is
Human reproduction and birth control
How pregnancy happens and the basics of how a pregnancy develops
That birth control methods, including emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy
That 85 out of 100 women who have vaginal intercourse will become pregnant within a year if they don’t use birth control
Where contraception is available
What abortion is
Some extra tips for parents
It might be a good idea to consider visiting a local bookshop or library to peruse books on human development and sexuality. Once you have found one that you are happy with, give it to your tween so they can read it in their spare time.If you have a girl, buy period supplies in advance and put them in an attractive make up case ready for when they might need it.Try not to talk with your child about the negative aspects of sexuality. Talk about the positive aspects too, for instance falling in love.