It is important to talk with your child about their body. Open communication about regular day-to-day questions and problems will provide a good foundation for more difficult conversations later.
A child’s body changes a lot from the time they are born until becoming an adult. We tend to focus on changes during puberty, but all along the way we are helping and teaching our children to care for their body. We are helping our kids learn all the time, from reminders about brushing teeth to dealing with teasing at school to learning to feel okay about their body.
What to expect from children at different stages
Children grow and change fast. It’s easy to expect more from your child than they are able to do at any given time, or to have worries because your child isn’t keeping up with other children their age. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a great website with answers to many questions related to raising a child, as well as general guidelines about where your child should be at any given time. Visit Ages & Stages to learn more.
KidsHealth provides health information for kids, teens and parents. Specifically, it gives teenagers information about their changing bodies, sexuality, ways to stay healthy, school, jobs and friends.
Books we recommend
There are some great books that can help parents and children learn about all these changes. The list below is not exhaustive, but is a great place to start.
Written by Dr. Cara Natterson, this is a body book for girls ages 8+. It features tips, how-tos, and facts from the experts. Girls will find age-appropriate answers to questions about their changing bodies — from hair care to healthy eating, bad breath to bras, periods to pimples, and everything in between.
The Care and Keeping of You: Book 2 (The Book for Older Girls)
This thoughtful advice book will guide girls 10+ through the next steps of growing up. It includes more in-depth details about physical and emotional changes, with illustrations and expert contributors. It also covers questions about periods, a girl’s growing body, peer pressure, personal care, and more.
This book answers questions for boys ages 10-15 about everything from shaving to vocal changes, bad breath, smelly feet, braces, and acne. It also touches on school, sports, girls, friends, family, and more.
This book addresses the fact that growing up isn’t as easy as it looks. Covering changing emotions, friends, expectations and bodies, this book offers expert advice, common sense tips, fast facts, and answers to all questions a boy might have.
Please note: The two books above are different despite having similar titles.