How to Talk to Your Kids About Puberty

Courtesy of Katie Gallagher, Director of Education at Candor Health Education
Edited by Lawndale Bilingual News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationHere in In Illinois, unlike some surrounding states, it is mandatory that students be provided sex health education in school. Controversy has swirled around just exactly what that content should be. However, there is one thing all parents can agree on: it’s important to properly prepare kids for puberty, body changes, and to create an open dialog with someone. With students back in school and playground conversations buzzing, now might be a good time to talk to kids about the birds and the bees. While experts differ on the ‘right’ age to start conversations about changing bodies, anatomy, how babies are made, etc., most agree that between 9 and 11 are good ages to have conversations about puberty. Studies show that having honest, early conversations helps a child develop a healthy attitude about these topics and will feel comfortable asking questions, even if parents aren’t comfortable answering them.

How to talk to your kids about puberty

1. Recognize when it’s time. If your child is asking questions or you know has been exposed to media or information from another child, don’t wait to initiate a one-on-one conversation.

2. Ask them what they already know. It’s good to start with where they are and not to dive in too deeply if they are just wondering something simple.

3. Answer questions thoughtfully. It’s OK to explain that you want to answer their questions, but a later time might be better. This will give you time to research and/or formulate your answers.

4. Fill in gaps and debunk myths. Kids will hear all kinds of crazy stories so it’s important to give them the real facts. Think of it as an anatomy lesson and always use the correct terms for body parts.

5. Talk about your family’s values. It’s important to share your beliefs and to encourage kids to follow the same path. Also explain the ‘other side’ as an alternative for some, but why you chose the values that you did.

6. Lean on resources available. Search online for starter questions or topics. Visit your local library or view videos at

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