My journey as a mom began nearly 11 years ago, which is both exciting and nerve-wracking to say. While I admit that my baby girl is no longer a “baby” by definition, she knows she’ll always be my baby, regardless of what stage of life she’s currently going through. At 10 1/2 years old, we’re currently in a fun stage, even if it doesn’t always seem like it. The early stages of puberty, it turns out, aren’t nearly as bad as most people would have you believe!
When my girl was a toddler, people would tell us, “Just wait until she hits her teen years,” or “The tween years are going to do you in!” Now, I know we’re only getting started with our journey of the tween and teen years and that we have a long road of puberty ahead of us, but so far, we’re doing well. Sure, there have been many changes (physical, mental, and emotional) that we’ve all had to adjust to, but the past two or so years have shown my husband and I that we’ve got a pretty awesome girl on our hands! Here are a few of the tips that have helped us in navigating the start of puberty in our home – perhaps they’ll help you to prepare your tween for puberty too!
7 Tips to Help Prepare Your Tween Daughter for Puberty
- Talk Early: We found that starting conversations early-on about upcoming changes helped in preparing our girl to deal with the on-set of puberty. Instead of waiting for certain changes to happen, we would take advantage of other situations (i.e., books, her questions) to guide conversations.
- Talk Often: There is no one conversation that will cover all the topics, all the questions, and all there is to say about puberty for your daughter. You will need to talk often with your tween girl in order to help her understand everything she is (or will be) going through. Some conversations will be short, some longer, but all important for her to ease into puberty.
- Read Books Together: Reading books about puberty has been a huge help in not only answering many of her questions, but also in guiding our conversations. Sometimes straight facts work best, which have then provided us with a jumping-off point for going deeper with the topic and talking further about what it all means in her life. I recommend you and your tween girl check out the various books by American Girl, starting with The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls. It was a good first-read on puberty for my daughter (around age 8) that got us started talking about hygiene and healthy habits. We’ve since moved up to The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls and have also started reading The Feelings Book: The Care and Keeping of Your Emotions, which takes a closer look at the emotional side of things.
- Be Honest: Providing my girl with honest answers has been a key factor in helping her feel confident in this journey of puberty and in building trust between her and us. Sometimes honesty can be as simple as “I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out,” and sometimes honesty means she doesn’t necessarily like the answer. However, we reassure her that if we got through it, then she can too. Now, of course, being honest with our girl comes with a filter of age-appropriateness; that is to say, we are honest with her, but don’t give her more information than she can handle at 10-years-old. You can say it’s chunks of honest information, so she can get more as she grows older.
- Give Each Other Time: Setting aside time to spend together has been important since all too often, she finds herself lost in her thoughts and questions. This is when many of her questions come up and provides opportunity for us to have uninterrupted conversations, even if they’re not necessarily about puberty. Time alone with either myself or her dad is something she loves.
- Involve Dad (if available): Contrary to how I was raised, my husband has been involved in many of the conversations with our daughter regarding puberty. While he may not be able to answer specific questions on physical changes due to a lack of personal experience, he can certainly listen and be supportive. Additionally, he can speak with our girl about the emotional and social aspects of puberty, something that many times books don’t even mention. But, most importantly, just having him be present and showing her that he can be a resource, a shoulder that she can lean on (figuratively and literally) has been the most important thing he has done thus far…and it’s working! My girl has unashamedly gone to him with questions or grievances and knows her daddy has her back.
- Listen (a lot): Listening to your tween daughter during this confusing time leading up to and during puberty will be so very important. I cannot tell you how many times my girl has said, “Sorry for so many questions,” or “There’s just so much I don’t understand.” And, I always tell her, “You don’t have to be sorry, it’s all normal.” Listening, letting her talk, ask, and get those thoughts out, has been helpful for her. So, while you’ll be doing a lot of talking, you’ll also be doing a lot of listening.
I know that puberty can seem like that scary time we want to avoid with our children (it seems even more so with our girls), but I believe that if we start preparing them (and us) early-on, puberty doesn’t have to be quite so catastrophic. Are you nearing the tween years in your home? What tips would you add that have helped to prepare your tween for puberty?
All photos © Melanie Edwards/modernmami™