Watching children grow up and develop their own styles and personalities can be such a wonderful and joyous experience. However, if your child is starting puberty, parents can find it challenging or awkward to talk about sex and other “adult” topics with their kids.
Usually boys and girls fully mature by age 18, but some might reach the end of puberty sooner. During puberty years—ages 11-16 for girls and 12-17 for boys—children are exposed to a lot of information about sex. Unfortunately, some parents do not have these conversations early on, so their children are left to learn from friends and the internet. But the more you can talk with your teens about condoms, unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs and STIs), the more they will be prepared and informed to make safe choices.
Patients seeking treatment for STIs account for a large number of emergency department visits per year. So we at HHER know just how important it is to talk to your kids about prevention and treatment.
When Will My Child Go Through Puberty?
The age when kids reach puberty varies. For girls, puberty usually starts at eleven years of age, and for boys, puberty usually starts at twelve. As with most things, not all children go through puberty at the same age. Puberty can start as early as seven for some girls and nine for some boys, and many children don’t start puberty until their teens .
How Can I Tell if My Kid is Starting Puberty?
One of the first signs of puberty is a growth spurt; girls and boys alike usually grow a few inches with the onset of puberty. Here are a few other things to pay attention to:
- Onset of acne
- Breast development
- Hair growth on legs, armpits, and pubic area
- Deeper voice for males
- Menstrual periods for girls
- Muscle strength in boys
- Attitude and mood swings
It is very important for parents to talk with their children about exactly what happens during puberty. The conversation might not be pleasant, but it is necessary. Parents will need to discuss what the changes in their kids’ hormones mean.
Here are a few talking points:
- Deodorant and armpit odor
- How to properly take care of private parts
- How to treat acne and how to manage emotions if it can’t be treated
- How to use tampons and sanitary pads
- Why using a bra is important
- Menstruation and what causes cramps
- How babies are created
- Safe sex
If you are having a difficult time discussing puberty with your children, reach out to their pediatrician and ask for guidance, or visit familydoctor.org for additional information. Your local hospitals and emergency rooms will also have information on safe sex practices and STD’s.
Hospitality Health ER offers testing and treatment of STDs. Our emergency room in Longview, Tyler and Galveston are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Walk in today for top-of-the-line care.