How can I talk to my daughter about changes to her body?
Real Mom Problem
“I have a nine-year-old daughter and she needs to start wearing a training bra. Every time I bring it up she REFUSES to even let me talk about it. I don't know what to do.”
- 1. Start the conversation early so your daughter isn't taken aback by changes
- 2. If your daughter won't listen, get creative with your approach, such as by talking in the car, or writing her a letter
- 3. Include self-care and personal hygiene in your conversation
- 4. Moms love the book "The Care and Keeping of You"--check it out for your daughter!
Real Mom Solutions
Many moms find it difficult to talk to their kids about how their bodies change during puberty. Check out these moms' tips to make the changing-body conversation a little easier for you!
Educate Your Daughter Early and Openly
My youngest daughter started puberty at eight. She had her period by nine. My oldest daughter started hers at 11. I made sure to speak to both of them, told them what would happen and why. I also made sure that they knew it was normal, and not going to hurt them. My mother never spoke to me about any of it, and when I got my period in fourth grade, I freaked out and thought I was dying. I don't want that for my girls. Also, the internet can be a great aid in this. I found a few sites that helped explain what I could not. Just let your tween know that everything is perfectly natural, answer any questions she has, and help her find the answers to anything you can't answer.
As soon as my 11-year-old started developing breasts at age nine, I started talking to her about how her body was going to start changing and started talking about periods. She had her first period while she was away at camp; luckily I already had her prepared. She was wearing panty liners and I had packed her some pads just in case. She said she was a little freaked out at first but then collected herself and calmed down and remembered what we had talked about.
I just explained to my daughter that she was at the age where she was going to go through some physical changes as her body grew into that of an adult. She would get breasts like I have, dark hair under her arms, on her legs, and on her pubic area. She might notice her voice getting lower as well. Her hips will eventually widen and at some point she would start her period (she already knows what that is). I told her that sometimes these changes might make her uncomfortable, but that she shouldn't worry because everybody goes through them. Then I told her that if she had any questions about anything, she should come to me because I want to make sure that she gets the correct information.
Get Creative with the Talk
Get your daughter a case with pads and tampons in it, pick up a book or two and leave it in her room, and just let her know you are available if she needs you. You can't force her to talk, but you can make sure she knows you are willing to when she is.
If you're in the car, she can't get away. When commercials for feminine products come on, comment on them. It doesn't have to be a "sit down and talk" thing, it can be a passing conversation that lasts 20 seconds.
I've learned that with certain topics, I won't be able to have a two-way conversation with my daughter. But what I can do is make her listen to me while I talk. Sometimes I just have to say, "Look, don't get defensive, but you're going to listen to me whether you want to or not," and then proceed with whatever I need to say. So it may not be a give-and-take scenario, but she still at least gets the information in her head. If she gets ticked off in the process? Eh, I can live with that.
Just keep the lines open, and keep talking to your daughter. She's listening, even if you think she's not, even if she's thoroughly "disgusted" by what you're saying, she's listening. My daughter is almost 12 and doesn't want to talk about these changes with me, but I slip little bits of information in, through my high school horror stories (never wear white pants, etc.).
You can write your daughter a letter instead. Or go to the library and look for a good book on puberty to leave on her bed with a note saying, "You have questions? I have answers." She's already heard a lot from her friends at this point, a lot of misinformation, too. And I hope you call it a period. No cutesy euphemisms. She needs the appropriate verbiage.
Make her a little goodie bag of the things she'll need, include a good book/ pamphlets on body changes, take her for ice cream (or whatever her favorite yummy is), and then go sit in a park or somewhere that's not too populated with people and ask her what she knows or has heard. Discussing puberty and body changes is difficult for boys or girls.
I talk to my daughter in the car about personal issues because she can't run off.
Don't Forget Personal Hygiene
I've explained that keeping clean is not just for our benefit, but that it affects my daughter's relationships with peers. You know how important friends are to them. Simply put, people don't want classmates, friends, or teammates who stink or have bad breath.
My daughter doesn't always put on deodorant. She can get really musty really quickly. I take her in the bathroom and scrub under her arms and put the deodorant on her and make her change. She hates that. She has seen someone embarrassed about being musty at basketball practice. I told her if it ever happens she will always be remembered for the day she was stinky as long as she and the kids live. So that helps during the school year. She also started her period which led to a conversation about keeping clean down there to avoid having an odor. I always let her know that I am not making fun of her, just looking out for her.
Check Out Moms' Favorite Book
Go to your bookstore and get the American Girl book "The Care and Keeping of You." It's a great book for your daughter and you to read. My daughter and I read it together. It explains a lot of the changes that happen.
I am going to get the American Girl book "The Care and Keeping of You" for my daughter for her ninth birthday. Although she may not need it for a couple more years, I want her to be prepared for the changes that her body may start going through at any point after that. I think a lot of people forget that kids can start going through puberty as young as seven.
I told my mom about the American Girl book "The Care and Keeping of You" and she is buying the set for my daughter who is turning eight. The set includes that book, "The Feelings Book," two journals and a little purse pouch that can hold lip gloss, lotion, and more. Even though my daughter is only turning eight, she is starting to show small signs like underarm odor. I am hoping the books will help her. I am also hoping she won't shut me out and will talk to me about what she is reading. I plan to look at it first before we give it to her so I can know what is in it so I can be ready when she comes to me with questions dealing with what is in the book.
Educate your daughter about puberty and what her body s going through. Be there for her so she has someone to ask questions and talk to. Also, I would pick up the American Girl book "The Care and Keeping of You." I got one for my daughter when she was seven or eight and it helped out a ton. Now she's pretty educated on what her body will be doing and she isn't shy or freaked out over it.