Women2Women - Spring 2017 - 46

Health2Wellness

How to Have "The Talk" With Your Kids

By Jessica Bezler,
Reading Health System

s

ome parents dread having "the talk" session. Reading Health anticipates that the
with their children about puberty. And, program for boys will be equally popular.
as every adult knows, children dread
"the talk" even more. But it doesn't have to
The programs are designed to help encourbe that way, says Kristine M. Leaman, MD, age conversations between parents and
Reading Health Physician Network - All children on these subjects. So, in general,
About Women.
how can parents make these conversations
more comfortable for their children?
As adults know, puberty is not easy. That's
why it is important for parents to make themOne way to ease the awkwardness is to
selves available to their children - to listen, to have an ongoing conversation and to answer
be attentive, and when the time seems right, to questions openly and honestly - in an age-apshare stories of their own puberty to help their propriate fashion, of course - when children ask.
kids understand that everyone goes through it.
Dr. Leaman says if children haven't asked
"One thing we recommend is trying to nor- questions by age 9, it probably is best to discuss
malize these changes," Dr. Leaman says. "It's puberty with them so they are prepared for -
important to ensure our children understand and not surprised or scared by - the changes
that these changes are not something to be that will occur. So, what should be discussed?
ashamed or embarrassed about. They happen to
everyone, and they are not something to dread."
For girls, it's important to address that they'll
see changes in their body; and will begin to
Reading Health System offers programming menstruate. Explaining the need for bras, sanion these topics. "All Grown Up" and "Boys tary napkins, tampons and deodorant is helpful.
to Men" offer forums for discussing the
physical, social and emotional changes that
For boys, it's important to address that
occur during puberty. The program for girls they will also see changes in their body;
has been well-received, with as many as 400 undergo growth spurts and notice changes
parents, caregivers and girls at the most-recent in their voice.
46 Women2Women Spring 2017

But changes stretch beyond the physical.
It is helpful to talk with children about
emotional changes they may experience,
including the possibility that they will feel
like they want to cry, be angry, feel alone, feel
worried or anxious, and may not understand
these emotions. That's why it's important to
talk about them.
It's also important to help children understand that they probably will notice social
changes such as developing different interests
than some of their elementary school friends,
expanding their friend groups as they reach



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