How did this happen? I mean, is this really happening? My husband and I have this conversation at least once a week about our daughter. Sure, at age 10, we noticed she had a surprise growth spurt—and was now just 2 inches shorter than me. But we noticed more than just the change in her height. And, like most good parents, we were in denial for at least 6 months before developing our game plan for tackling . . . puberty.
We first started by reading a great book, recommended by a lot of neighborhood moms to start the conversation: The Care and Keeping of You, Volume 1 by Valorie Lee Schaefer. This American Girl book has great descriptions and photos. And, when we read it together, she seemed intrigued. I would stop throughout the book and we’d discuss and decide which picture and stage of development she was at. She wasn’t embarrassed and I, to my surprise, kept my cool, too. When we finished the book, she’d often ask me to read it again, and I could tell there was still more she wanted to learn. I knew we had to do more. So, I set out to make puberty an easy, no big deal, transition. And so far, puberty has been . . . awesome.
We Attended a Hands-On Class
Next, I found an amazing workshop by two pediatricians in my area. In this class, mothers and daughters learned everything about puberty, from skin care to periods. Their interactive class had us answering questions, passing around bras to determine what we like best for our bodies, and performing an experiment using pads. Ultimately, we left feeling (dare I say) confident—and maybe even excited—about puberty. Even more, we also received a fabulous period kit to put in her backpack. The period kit was a mini drawstring bag that included a pad, a zip-lock bag to put dirty undies in, and a note that she can give a teacher or other trusted adult to easily let them know she just got her period and is going to the bathroom. They also suggested adding a spare pair of undies to the kit!
You can learn more about this class at turningteen.com. These amazing pediatricians have created workshops for boys and girls. If you don’t have something like this in your community, ask your pediatrician for a one-on-one meeting.
We Practiced Wearing a Pad
Being the hands-on learner, she is, I wanted to make sure we practiced everything we just learned in the class. So, for the next few weeks, her and I would practice putting a pad on, wearing it to bed, and proper disposal in the morning.
We Established Good Hygiene Habits
Puberty isn’t just about periods, it’s about taking good care of your body. And that means keeping clean. To establish good habits, and get excited about doing them, we stocked her up with a skin cleansing brush, face wash, face lotion, and deodorant. I demonstrated how to wash her face and apply deodorant. Then, I helped her to do it on her own. We talk about making sure your skin is clean and healthy and how deodorant helps you stay dry and odor-free.
There were more tips for hygiene—this time in the shower. Washing hair was a challenge and I often found myself reaching in and helping her scrub her hair because she would miss sections. Then, I had an idea and held my makeup mirror in the shower so that she could see her hair. With a mirror, she could see what areas she was missing. Almost instantly she became a pro at washing her hair. So now, instead of holding up a makeup mirror in the shower, we installed a shower mirror. It easily attached to the tile with a suction cup. Another great tool for washing hair is a palm-style shampoo brush. She lathers up her hair, then uses the brush to make sure she’s really washing her hair well. I found both of these great items at Bed Bath and Beyond.
We Shave (Safely)
Shaving has been very easy with an electric wet/dry shaver. I highly recommend practicing shaving with it in the off position first. Then, turning it on and listening to it, and finally touching it with your finger. When you feel confident, turn it on and shave your underarm. We practice shaving our underarms prior to taking a shower. When she’s finished, she puts it back on the charger until next time. Lastly, I made sure to remind her that the shaver is only for her underarms. And although the shaver can be used as wet or dry, we prefer to use it only in a dry setting.
Since she hasn’t received her period yet, I make it a point to remind her to check her backpack every few weeks to make sure she knows where her period kit is. This way it’s top-of-mind and she’s ready when it happens.
With all this prep, she seems to be taking puberty with stride. We have prepped with books, hands-on demonstrations, and practice—leveraging her strongest learning methods to teach this topic at home. Forget about “Puberty . . already?” Now, it’s “Puberty—bring it on!”
Best of luck to you and your pre-teen in your own puberty adventures!