Preparing Your Children for Puberty

One of the most common issues I see in parenting is waiting until puberty arrives before taking action. It’s crucial to prepare beforehand. Just like you don’t prepare for war during the battle, you must prepare for puberty in advance.

Talking about puberty often makes parents anxious. However, understanding the changes that occur during puberty is essential. Many parents are surprised to learn that Africa ranks among the top five regions for porn addiction. This isn’t just a Western issue; it’s universal. At puberty, children naturally start to question many things, including their gender. Adequate knowledge is key to navigating these challenges.

The Onset of Puberty

Girls: Typically start around age seven, though it can be earlier due to factors like nutrition. Early puberty isn’t necessarily good; it can lead to issues later in life.

Boys: Usually start around age nine, but this age is also decreasing.

Key Factors Influencing Puberty

  1. Absentee Fathers: Girls often enter puberty earlier when their fathers are absent. An involved father helps delay puberty by signaling protection to the brain.
  2. Screen Time: Ongoing studies suggest that screen time might impact puberty, though this isn’t yet verified.

 Starting the Conversation

Begin discussing sex and puberty early. This gives your children a cumulative advantage and prevents panic.

Steps to Prepare Your Child for Puberty

1. Lay the Groundwork Early:  Tailor the conversation to your child’s age. Talk about hygiene and how to care for the vagina and penis. One of the best things you can do for your children is to equip them with knowledge.

2. Create Comfort: From day one, make your child comfortable with having conversations about sex. Create an open environment for communication through constant connection. If you don’t connect with your child, you can’t have meaningful sex or puberty conversations with them. These are private conversations about their bodies, and they need to feel comfortable with you in all areas of their lives.

3. Look for Age-Appropriate Resources:  Use books, documentaries, and other resources that are suitable for your child’s age.

4. Equip Yourself First: It’s a mistake to think you know everything about raising a child just because you gave birth to them. As the saying goes, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” Unfortunately, many of us aren’t equipped with the necessary knowledge, making it almost impossible to teach what we don’t know. If you grew up with parents who never mentioned these conversations, continuing that way puts your child at a disadvantage. 

Today’s biggest concern for parents is gender confusion, not pregnancy. Fear-based sex education disempowers rather than empowers. Sex conversations must never be rooted in fear.

5. Understand That Sex Education Is About Empowering, Not Policing:  We created a list of 100 wrong phrases parents say in sex conversations. For example, telling your child, “If anyone touches you, tell me immediately,” disempowers them. It’s not about forbidding sleepovers; it’s about empowering your child. Instead of instilling fear, instill values. 

Empower your child to make choices based on the skills and knowledge they have, and how confident and empowered they feel. This conversation is about empowerment and ownership of self. A confident 2-year-old can make decisions irrespective of your presence. Disempowering children makes them dependent on you, which isn’t the goal. Create systems and structures without panicking.

6. Learn About Conversations That Determine Sex Choices: Sex conversations aren’t just about the mechanics of sex. Your conversations should be clear so your children understand how to make decisions. Teach teens the self-concepts that underpin sex conversations. Our book, “Sex Educate Your Child Like a Pro,” available on Amazon and in our stores, covers these concepts. The two most important aspects of self-concept are self-preservation and self-control. Any conversation with a girl that doesn’t build her self-esteem is ineffective, and for boys, self-control is crucial.

7. Teach Body Awareness and Self-Esteem: Teach anatomy and its functions. Normalize body changes and differences—it’s okay and normal. Discuss body image in puberty. The media is a major influencer on sex conversations. Combat negative media influences by promoting positive body images. Without a solid self-identity, children may become confused about their gender during puberty. Monitor what your children watch on media. Teach puberty hygiene, skincare, and how to take care of themselves. Puberty and hygiene education must go hand in hand.

8. Understand Communication Strategy: Your children need to understand the communication strategy within your home. Many parents don’t know what to say and resort to lies, which disempowers the child. In today’s information era, using the wrong phrases does your child a disservice. Understanding the communication strategy for each age is crucial. For example, when teaching a toddler body safety, a simple phrase like “My body is not a toy” suffices. Each age group requires a specific strategy and continuity. Create a sex conversation strategy, as our inner circle parents do.

You need to decide to parent your children without making excuses. Educate your children about sex despite your excuses. Time won’t wait for you, and your children’s growth won’t either. Join the inner circle for accountability in your parenting journey.

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