Talking to my daughter about puberty

I’ve been meaning to talk to my daughter about puberty for nearly 18 months now, but somehow it just didn’t happen. We were always busy and it was hard to find time, as well as space where we wouldn’t be interrupted by the boys. But she’s 11 now. I really needed to do it.

Of course my biggest fear was that she would start her periods and would have no idea what was happening. But I didn’t actually think that would happen. While puberty has definitely started, I can see that she’s some way off starting her periods. Plus I didn’t start until I was 14, so I guess she will be a similar age.

I bought a book, Ready, Set, Grow! by Lynda Madaras, to help me with the all-important talk way back in November 2015. It reminded me of lots of things I wouldn’t think of – like BO, putting on weight and body hair. I would probably have only remembered periods, boobs and getting taller.

Over the Easter holidays, I knew I had to bite the bullet. And the planets worked in my favour. Both boys went out with their friends at the same time on the same day. We could have peace!

In an ideal world, I would have made it ‘special’, but how? Not being able to plan because of the boys always being around, we just sat together on my bed and went through the book. It was very useful to me to have prompts.

The book told me (and my daughter!) that puberty takes about five years. I wouldn’t have known that. It had useful diagrams showing the progress of breasts, which apparently takes three or four years in total. I read in a blogpost recently that girls should be offered crop tops from the age of 9 or 10 to help them feel more comfortable with their growing breasts. Of course I had never thought of this. As the mum of two boys, I always feel I’m playing catch-up parenting my daughter. I asked her if she would like crop tops and she said she would. I think a bra will be a year away yet.

We think my daughter has started her growth spurt – certainly she seems to be growing out of her clothes quicker than she used to. The book reminded us of the importance of a good balanced diet and exercise to help growing bones. We’ve seen from my eldest just how much food a child needs when going through their growth spurt (loads). My daughter has got the exercise bit right, but she knows her diet isn’t quite as balanced as it should be.

I hadn’t really considered the weight a child puts on during puberty, but it makes sense that they do, because they transform from child shape to woman shape. My daughter has spent a lot of time with older girls at the panto and in her ballet class and knows they are a different shape from her. The book says a girl will put on around 3 stone over the course of puberty, which sounds rather a lot. But, actually, my daughter is 6 stone and I’m 9 stone, so it’s just the difference between child size and adult size. Of course the weight isn’t all boobs and hips, most of it is just down to sheer height.

We’ve noticed that my daughter’s hair is getting greasier these days and I’ve told her she will have to start washing it more often and showering every day when she goes to secondary school. It’s useful to have the book to explain why and to tell her that it’s normal.

I genuinely didn’t know if my daughter knew anything about periods, as I know they don’t do the sex education talk at school until the very end of year 6, but she said she knew a bit. There are a couple of girls in her class who have already started and have told her about them. We talked about the purpose of periods, how long they are likely to last, that they might hurt a bit and the protection to use. We agreed we would keep a couple of sanitary towels in her school bag from when she starts her new school. I never did this as a child, so it was lucky I started first thing in the morning before school!

I haven’t given the book to my daughter yet, I will wait until after she’s had the talk at school. My friend told me there were bits in her book she wasn’t comfortable about sharing at this stage, so she covered those pages up! That’s kind of how I feel too.

The main message I gave my daughter about puberty was not to worry – about periods, boobs, body hair, weight or anything else. I’ve told her she must talk to me if she’s worried about anything and I will always listen to her and always be there to help her.

My daughter took it all very well. The only thing she didn’t like to talk about or think about was body hair – I think it was an ‘amusing’ picture in the book (of someone completely covered in hair) that slightly upset her. Knowing what grooming to do and when will be a question for a later date.

I’m so glad I finally got round to having the talk. Maybe I should have done it a bit earlier, but it was useful that my daughter already had a bit of knowledge. I think we are both feeling happier about puberty now.

Talking to my daughter about puberty, Puberty, Growing up, Girls, Daughter, Tweens

After the Playground

 

 

Author: Sarah Mummy

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49 Comments

  1. Well done you! I forgot about the pesky things like greasy hair …and just bloomin hair growth in general. I think I remember being told at 11 too, we had a huge sex Ed and contraception awareness lesson in school and we all giggled through the entire thing!

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    • Thanks very much! The book was very useful for reminding me bout things like greasy hair. I can remember how hilarious the contraception talk was – particularly the condom on the banana-like thing 🙁

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  2. Well done, I think these conversations are always easier than we think they’re going to be and build them up in our minds. This sounds like a good book, think I might invest.

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    • Thanks very much! It’s a really good book (apart from that silly body hair pic!) and the talk was definitely easier than I thought it would be!

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  3. Well done! I never really had a chat with my Mum, I think I caught her by surprise as I started my periods quite early! She had given me a book though I think and I did read a lot so picked up quite a bit from that (thanks Judy Blume!) Thanks for the book tip, it’s a way off for my daughter yet (there’s my son to think about first!) but it would be good to have something on hand.

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    • I never had a chat with my mum either, she didn’t even get me a book. There was a book in the school library about periods that did the rounds of the year 7s! I must say I didn’t really deal with my sons’ puberty – there’s nothing quite as scary for them as bleeding!

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  4. Well done…
    I had a chat with my 9 year old a few weeks ago….She gets a talk this term at school about puberty so I thought I better get in their first….I have been trying to get my girl to wear crop tops but she is not at all impressed with them. Eek and she is determined that she doesn’t want to have periods. My teen was the same but she started her periods at the beginning of this year and has dealt brilliantly with them! x

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    • That’s really good news about your teen and the periods! They are quite a scary prospect and I was impressed that my daughter didn’t seem scared by the idea. I don’t know why I had never considered crop tops before. My daughter seems very happy to wear them, but she is a bit older! x

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  5. Not to worry – yes, so important to convey that to our daughters! I’m thankful that my school district has excellent sex ed. My daughter has just started the first of five years of it in Grade 4. My son, in 8th grade, is finishing it this year.

    #TweensTeensBeyond

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    • I just hope my daughter remembers not to worry! It’s good that your schools cover it so well, it’s a bit hit and miss here!

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  6. Well done for having the talk! My mum didn’t really have the talk with me and so I was determined to do things differently because it’s so important for them to know they can talk to mum. We are very very open about periods and all of that in our house and I definitely feel that they are all happy to talk about stuff with me.

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    • That’s really good! It must be nice with lots of teenage daughters around, all supporting each other and having you there too. My mum didn’t talk to me, which is why I think I struggled to raise it with my daughter. But once I’d done it I realised it wasn’t a big deal at all!

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  7. Hooray!! That is all…
    ..xxxx

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    • Thanks very much! 🙂 I got there in the end! x

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  8. We had this talk quite a few years ago, I could see how uncomfortable she was with it so just started getting on with tidying up etc while talking to her. It seemed to help as she was much more open and less embarrassed by it all.
    I also bought her a book (can’t remember what it was) and left it in her room with a bar of chocolate, a little package of toiletries and and a note saying to ask me anything she needs to. #teentweensbeyond

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    • That’s a lovely idea to leave her the little package. Glad she was more open and less embarrassed after the talk.

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  9. I never had ‘the talk’ with my mum so it was something that I always dreaded with mine because I honestly didn’t know where to start. As it happens though, it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. I’m pleased to say that I have a really open relationship with my oldest two now and at 17 and 19, there is nothing that they can’t talk to me about. It couldn’t be more different than the relationship I had with my own mum I didn’t (couldn’t!) talk to her about any of this. Well done for going for it! It sounds like the book was a good opener to starting that conversation!

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    • It’s lovely that you have such a good relationship with your older two. My mum didn’t have ‘the talk’ with me either and I was determined I was going to do it, even though it took me a long time to pluck up the courage/ get round to it. I’m so glad I managed it in the end!

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  10. I’ve been sending my daughter everywhere with sanitary towels for the past three years but she still hasn’t started her periods yet .
    I’ve just realised that my 11year old (boy) doesn’t get the sex ed talk now, (although he’s had the puberty one) so I need to address that

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    • It’s lovely that she’s been prepared all this time. I wonder if my girl will be carrying them round for as long!
      I was assuming my daughter would get the sex education talk right at the end of the year, because that’s when the boys had it. If the curriculum has changed, I’ll have to have another talk with her!

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  11. I had the talk with both the boys a while ago. We bought a couple of books, one by Dr Christian and one by Usbourne and they were both ace. Being Farmer’s grandsons they really matter of fact about stuff. Plus it doesn’t embarrass me, so I would rather chat to them about it then they find out from someone else .
    In fact Mini made up a song to staying alive by the BG’s – Puberty – when your voice gets’s scary and your balls get hairy!

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    • Ha ha, that song is brilliant! I’m afraid we didn’t talk to the boys 🙁 I felt it was my husband’s job because I don’t know about boys’ bits like he does, but he never did it. I wasn’t worried because there’s nothing quite as scary for boys as bleeding. My main concern for my daughter was that she would start her periods and not know what was going on.

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  12. My daughter is 10 and we’ve been talking about it a lot recently, she started puberty quite early, she has pubic hair and boobs growing. I expect she will start her periods soon so I wanted her to be prepared. My Mum never talked to me about it, I guess I just picked it all up from friends. x

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    • My mum didn’t talk to me either. We picked stuff up from school friends and there was a book everyone liked to borrow from the library! It’s great that you’ve been able to talk to your daughter and you are both feeling prepared for her starting her periods. x

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  13. This sounds like a fabulous book and one I will certainly turn to when Eliza is old enough. I cannot remember when I had the talk with Abbey but she was a late bloomer like I was (around the age of 14 too) – I do remember the mood swings though

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    • This book is well worth a read! We haven’t had mood swings here just yet, thank goodness! But I’m sure they’re not too far away.

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  14. We never had a specific talk but we’ve always talked about it to both of my two since they were little so the’ve always just asked questions when there was something they weren’t sure of – there’s been some good ones lol

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    • That’s really nice to be so open about it. Somehow that didn’t happen here, so I had to make the effort to have the talk.

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  15. Well done – I’ve not been such a good parent and just given them books to read. Guess it would be different with a daughter too.

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    • Well at least you did give them books to read! I must admit we didn’t have a talk with our boys. My view was that if anyone did it, it should be my husband because he understands these things better! It doesn’t worry me too much that we didn’t talk to them because there’s nothing quite as scary for boys as bleeding!

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  16. Well Sarah, I remember you leaving a couple of comments on my blog telling me you hadn’t spoken to your daughter about sex or periods. I’m glad you’ve now ticked one of them off the list! At risk of sounding like some boho, free-living spirit (I can assure you I am not!) I’ve been having these chats with my eldest since she was about three, albeit in an age appropriate fashion and largely sparked by the fact she and her sister would fill the bath with mummy’s tampons or open the packets in expectation they were sweets.

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    • Thanks very much, I’m glad I bit the bullet in the end! I’m impressed that you’ve talked about it from such a young age with your daughter, but I had to laugh at the tampons in the bath. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and my little sister and her friend stuck my mum’s sanitary towels all over themselves, then my mum told me off for not stopping them!

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  17. Well done lovely. I have bought the book for my oldest, but not read it with him yet. I will keep a note of this for A. I think it’s important to discuss things, especially all the little things and the book sounds like it covered them well. It’s good to discuss. x

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    • Thanks very much, it’s definitely good to discuss them. The book certainly reminded me of things I’d forgotten! Well done on getting a book for your eldest. I must admit we didn’t talk to the boys 🙁 x

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  18. This sounds like a useful book, definitely one to look out for when mine start to move towards that age. I think 11 is a good age to chat to her about it if she’s not near to starting periods yet, she’s more likely to understand things now than when she was a bit younger.
    Nat.x

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    • Thanks! That’s exactly what I thought! I probably should have done it a bit earlier really, but she accepted things a lot more reading than she would at 9 or 10, as she already had a bit of knowledge and understanding. x

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  19. I am dreading the talk too! But will have to do it eventually. My daughter is just about to turn 10. So I think we still have some time. This was a brilliantly written piece!

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    • Thanks very much, that’s a lovely thing to say! It sounds like you have a little bit more time on your side, but not too much! Good luck.

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  20. Oh my goodness this is a timely reminder for me Sarah! Because my oldest two are obviously past this stage I assumed that my youngest would know what was going on. I remember having a proper chat with them and I need to do that now with her. Thanks for reminding me! #TeensTweensBeyond

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    • You’re welcome! She’s probably a bit more savvy than they were at her age, but probably does need her own talk too.

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  21. Aaah well done. Our was pre-empted by the bringing forward of the talk at school in Year 5. Prior to that, we had bought a book – not sure if it is the same one as you mention but some of it was very ‘not necessary’ for their age group. Having the benefit of having attended the parent session, I knew what was coming. I had the conversation with my daughter and asked whether she would like me to talk it through with her and she said she wanted to do it at school. Once that was out of the way, we were able to talk openly about the whys and wherefores. They all did their giggling and took it in their stride. Any earlier and I don’t think they would have been ready. I imagine it will come in leaps from here. Nicky #tweensteensbeyond

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    • It sounds like it worked very well with the school. There were just one or two diagrams in our book which I felt were a little bit too graphic for this age group, so I didn’t want to just give her the book yet!

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  22. That’s quite a task and you handled it so very well. My daughter is turning 11 soon and I’ve had the talk about periods in bits and pieces so she knows what to expect but I need to tell about the other changes that come along with puberty. Your post is great help and the push I needed.

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    • Thanks very much! I couldn’t have done it without the book! There would have been a lot of stuff I would have missed. Well done on tackling periods nice and early!

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  23. Both mine had the talk at school in Year 5 and then I followed it up with a chat at home. It really helped that the “specialist” at the school had covered most of the detail and then our chat focused on their questions that they felt they couldn’t ask at school in front of their peers. I did buy them both a book, although neither of them ever referred to it! My daughter started her periods in Year 5 and was one of the first and felt very isolated as a result because her friends just didn’t get it. We also did the whole crop top thing around that time too. My only advice ( and the one thing i said to all my friends at the time) is give her the sanitary towels to keep in her bag sooner rather than later, just in case so she is not caught out. Thanks for linking – this is a great post for so many. #TweensTeensBeyond

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  24. Our talks have kind of happened on the go or spur of the moment or when specific things have happened/come up. She’s kind of been aware of puberty and what’s happening to her body for a while and I’ve encouraged an “ask as we go” policy, which seems to work. She doesn’t like talking about things around her little brother so we avoid that, of course! #tweensteensandbeyond

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  25. Ah yes the wonderful puberty talk. It is important to talk to them although I have found with the boys that they knew a lot of it already and my 13 year old is definitely now in the midst of it all. It is hard to explain it all without scaring the life out of them, so I think you did the right thing and using a book is a great idea too.

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  26. Well done! I ended up being forced to talk to my youngest when she took a similar book out of the library at school when she was in year 3! Mine have all read the book – What’s Happening to Me? – which is another good one. Sounds like she took it in her stride and I imagine she probably knew a lot already. My husband has a similar talk with our son about a year ago too – again, probably a bit later but better late than never! He’s a way off puberty yet 🙂

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    • We didn’t bother doing the talk with the boys, which is a bit naughty really! I was glad my daughter already knew some of it, it made it a lot easier!

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