Getting from age eight to eighteen is tough for kids, no matter what. Inside a decade, they go from being a little kid to an adult. During this time, they’re in school navigating friendships with people who are also dealing with ever-changing hormones, different family situations, and a myriad of varying life circumstances. They need help first and foremost from you, their parent. That’s what we signed up for – helping our kids grow into adults. It’s kind of Parenting 101. And sometimes, we parents need help, too.
Enter resources. Kids love having resources. They talk to their friends, classmates, teammates. They learn from tv, music, apps, books, anywhere they can soak up information about life is where they go. What they soak up from which medium is up to you.
Having open and honest conversations with our kids about puberty, what’s going on in their body and how to best handle it (or let them break down when they can’t) all starts at a very young age. Your kids will learn early in life if they can trust you when it comes to tough conversations. When they ask, don’t get flustered or embarrassed; be open and honest to the level you can be comfortable with, and tell them the answer to their question in an age appropriate way.
When you need help, I suggest having these books on hand. For girls, American Girl Publishing does a fantastic job at outlining puberty and their ever-growing bodies through illustrations and words. The Care and Keeping of You and The Care and Keeping of You for Older Girls are what I recommend having in your library. These books go deeper than shaving and tampons. They cover how to make good eating choices, the importance of exercise and sleep, how to deal with friends and emotions, and a lot more. They do not cover having sex, that part is up to you as the parent. But they do talk about periods, breast development, and hair growth during puberty, just to name a few.
If you have these and are looking for more resources for your daughter, American Girl has also put out The Feelings Book and Is This Normal? because we all know how it feels when you think you’re the only person in school who has this-or-that going on. It can make a teenager feel very isolated, and knowing that it’s all part of growing up and you’re not alone can ease all the feels.
For boys, I’d suggest the companion book to The Care and Keeping of You, Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys. Granted, I haven’t personally used this book because my son is three years old. However, from looking through it, topics ranging from handling the stink (because let’s be real, boys are smelly) to erections and voice changes are discussed. It also covers topics like getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercise. Like the companion book for girls, it does not go into having sex, so that’s up to you as the parent.
If you find you’re wanting a journal for your son, they’re not as likely to read a book on feelings, but they might like a way to write about their emotions. I’d suggest letting them pick out something that doesn’t look like a ‘feelings journal’ but maybe something cooler that might look like a comic book or sports magazine, whatever they’re into. Then if their friends catch them writing in it, they won’t be embarrassed, and they’ll be more likely to actually use it for its intended purpose.
The Right Time
In terms of when is the right time to get these books, I think it’s up to you, your instincts as a mom, and your child. If they’re asking you questions, now is the time to be talking about puberty. If you don’t answer them, they’ll ask friends, or YouTube, or social media. They’re hunting answers and they’ll look to whatever or whomever will provide them. If they’re going through puberty and not asking you questions, maybe now is the time for you to start the conversation.
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