In theory, it’s going to be a good few years until my daughters hit their teenaged years and puberty. In reality I know it’s going to come around very quickly and Mrs Adams and I, like other mums and dads, will be very grateful of all the help we can get.
I was quite lucky as a kid. My mother was always open about these things and had no problem discussing puberty and the various issues it throws up. In fact I recall I was sometimes left feeling awkward by her openness!
Not all mums and dads find it so easy. Health and beauty specialist P&G has partnered with Boots plus TV presenter and former gymnast Gabby Logan and her daughter Lois to run a campaign called #TeenTalk.
With boy / girl twins aged 12 years, Gabby is well placed to discuss the challenges parents face when having to talk about puberty with their kids. So it was that I found myself one afternoon in the Haymarket Hotel in London for a round table discussion with Gabby and 10 other bloggers including Jo Wimble Groves who writes Guilty Mother, Emma Bradley of Emma and 3, Emily Leary who writes A mummy Too and my good friend Vicki Psarias of Honest Mum.
The aim was to discuss puberty and the challenges of talking about it with your children. Various issues came up such as:
- The best ways to talk about puberty with your kids. Logan said she has “lots of little” conversations with her two children, a suggestion that was backed up by teen specialist Sarah Newton who was also present for the conversation
- Dealing with the physical changes that occur during puberty, such as girls growing breasts and boys having to learn how to shave their faces.
- The impact of social media on today’s youngters.
- The impact on parents, Logan highlighting that fathers can get “shut out” when daughters get conscious about their bodies and no longer wish to be physically close to them.
Logan certainly made for a lively host and spoke very candidly about experiences she’d had with both her son and daughter. It certainly gave me plenty to think about as it won’t be that long until I face some of these issues myself.
In addition to arranging this round table, Boots has published additional materials and information on its website and together with P&G, has produced a #TeenTalk booklet to assist parents. It is available from Boots (see below) and was produced after a survey was carried out with British mums and dads that found:
- 78% of teens find it tricky talking to their parents about puberty issues
- 68% of mums and dads find it awkward talking to their teens about puberty with periods being the most difficult discussion of all
- 19% of parents said they would put-off talking about puberty until “another time.”
At this point, it is important to highlight something about the #TeenTalk campaign. While there are plans to broaden it out to cover issues affecting boys, this particular phase is focused on girls and periods.
P&G and Boots felt that puberty was too broad to cover in one go. The #TeenTalk booklet, therefore, contains some broad advice on how to engage teenagers when discussing puberty, but is otherwise focused on the physical changes girls will face, particularly when they start their period.
Sections such as Building Personal Confidence cover issues such as shaving female body hair and how to wash girls’ hair. There is also a two-page section called FAQs for girls which looks at periods and a further two-page section looking at the menstrual cycle and products girls might consider using when their periods start.
The #TeenTalk guide is available with any purchase of Venus, Always and Tampax products at Boots between now and Tuesday 6 June, 2017. A free gift will also be given to parents and teens when they make a purchase.
As I said at the start, I know the teenaged years are going come round very quickly indeed. I’ve always felt very comfortable discussing issues such as periods and puberty with my kids and I have done on many occasions.
That said, I have been bounced into it a few times. More than once my kids have unwrapped attractively-packaged tampons expecting to find sweets or ice cream inside. When presented with a tampon, I’ve had to explain exactly what they are looking at!
Every child is different, but some general pointers came out of the round table. For instance, you should be open and approachable to discussing puberty.
You also shouldn’t bombard your kids with information. Lots of little conversations will probably be needed as opposed to one big talk.
Ask what your kids would like to know about. Interestingly, Gabby explained that she had given each of her kids a book on puberty but her daughter had handed it back saying she “wasn’t ready” for that kind of information just yet.
You should also empathise with the challenges they face. The pressures kids feel today are not the same as we did. Social media, for instance, has a much greater impact on today’s youth.
I’m gearing up for more of these talks over the next few years. I don’t think it will always be easy but I feel comfortable doing it.
Have you had these discussions with your children yet? If so, how did you handle it? Have you any tips of advice for talking about puberty and periods with your children? I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below with your suggestions.
Disclosure: This post was produced in association with P&G and Boots.