Pre-teens and teenagers go through many physical, emotional, social and cognitive changes. Your support can help young people handle the changes and develop well in adolescence.
- Start of puberty. Between 8 and 13 years old.
- First puberty change. Breast development.
- Pubic hair appears. Shortly after breast development.
- Hair under the arms. About 12 years old.
- Menstrual periods. Between 10 and 16 ½ years old.
Jacqueline’s Useful Tips:
Help your child anticipate changes in his or her body. Learn about puberty and explain what’s ahead. Reassure them that physical changes and emerging sexuality is part of normal, healthy development. Leave room for questions and allow children to ask them at their own pace. Talk to your pediatrician when needed!
Start early conversations about other important topics. Maintain open communication about healthy relationships, sex, sexuality, consent, and safety (such as how to prevent sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy, and substance use). Starting these conversations during early adolescence will help build a good framework for discussions later.
Keep conversations with your child positive. Point out strengths. Celebrate successes.
Be supportive and set clear limits with high (but reasonable) expectations. Communicate clear, reasonable expectations for curfews, school engagement, media use, and behavior, for example. At the same time, gradually expanding opportunities for more independence over time as your child takes on responsibility. Youth with parents that aim for this balance have been shown to have lower rates of depression and drug use.
Discuss risky behaviours. Be sure to set a positive example yourself. This can help teens consider or rehearse decision-making ahead of time and prepare for when situations arise.
Independence and individuality. This is all part of moving into early adulthood. Always remind your child you are there to help when needed.
The adolescent years can feel like riding a roller coaster. By maintaining positive and respectful parent-child relationships during this period, your family can (try to) enjoy the ride
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