There were only two ways to find out about puberty where I grew up,
1) Hear dreadful stories from your older girl cousins or friends about period and wait for the terrible day to occur
2) Find yourself in soiled clothes and think you’re dying.
Neither one was much useful to teach a girl about puberty.
When I became a mom, I wanted something better for my kids. I wanted to give my daughters matter-of-fact information about changes in her body so puberty doesn’t seem so mysterious, and show her how to talk about sensitive subjects like period in a healthy, mature way.
I wanted to talk to my kids about puberty before they hear it from their peers so they are better prepared to handle the stories from their friends. I decided to be creative when my turn came to talk about “it”. So I delved into many books and websites and read as much as I could until I became confident about talking to my kids about puberty. This pursuit of knowledge made me comfortable with the subject, gave me the confidence to talk about it and helped me deliver a much needed message about growing up.
So, let’s talk about how to help our daughter/s through puberty-
When should I start-
These days, kids are exposed to a lot of information about facts of life thanks to easy access to cellphones, t.v and magazines. If your 5-year-old has access to your phone or computer, you will never know what she might come across. If your child goes grocery shopping with you, he will be pelted with words and images while you’re checking out your groceries. So, plan to talk before she finds out about it from unreliable sources or misinformed peers. Yes, it can be uncomfortable but talking about puberty is a one of our responsibilities as moms and you will handle this one just fine insha Allah.
I recommend talking sooner than later to your daughter about puberty. Don’t wait for your child to come to you with questions about her changing body. Your child may never come to you, especially if she doesn’t know it’s ok to talk to you about this sensitive topic. By the time girls are 8 years old, they need to know what physical and emotional changes to expect with puberty.The changes usually begin when they are about 9-11 years old and they may have their period when they are about 12/13 years old. Your daughter’s period may start sooner or later than the average girl and you want your daughter to learn about period before she has it. She might be scared if she has her period without sufficient knowledge about it.
Talking about puberty early gives you ample time to learn about the topic, prepare you for the period talk, helps you smooth out your own awkwardness about the topic- so you can find a happy place between a stone face and laughing nervously to cover up your embarrassment while talking about it. It also help your daughter to anticipate changes in her body and learn how to handle these inevitable changes, She won’t be stressed out about her period since both of you have been preparing for this day. Both of you will be calm and peaceful insha Allah.
What to say-
I’m sure you’ve answered many inquiries of your kids regarding her body, from why she should eat broccoli to get stronger to why she can’t fit into her old clothes any more. These topics are all part of the changes our body go through. When you learn more about puberty, you will be just as comfortable talking about with your daughter. Here are some topics to include when you talk about puberty-
- Growth spurt
- Weight and height changes
- Sweating and body odor
- Body hair
- Breast developement
Anatomy books are the best way to start addressing the changes that occur in our body. Find good books from reliable publications. I prefer cartoons over real pictures as they tend to be less graphic and easier on little (and big) eyes. I also prefer books that uses easy to understand terms and offers simple explanations that are easy to comprehend.
The following books are 2 of my favorites books on human body to brush up your anatomy knowledge-
These two books are geared toward younger girls, 6 and up. You can start with these books so you can start talking about what happens in our bodies and the changes that take place as we grow up.
The following books are for older kids. Read these books yourself first, get acclimated to the topic and decide which information is right for your daughter and how you want to approach it. These books include images and you may feel uncomfortable with some of the pictures, but don’t let the discomfort deter or stop you from talking about puberty. Just stick a post it note on the pictures and focus on the topic.
This is a straightforward guide to puberty and facts of life- from contraceptives to STDs. It also talk about hygiene, healthy eating habits and exercise.
This book has in-depth details about the physical and emotional changes girls go through during puberty. This book covers inquiries about periods, their growing and changing body, personal care, and more.
This book is written specially for muslim girls and offers an Islamic perspective on puberty and how to handle it with grace.
How to say it-
It can be a challenge to talk about puberty to your daughter. Especially, if you grew up in a family where it was considered a taboo. But believe me, you can do amazing things with prayer and practice. So read up as much as you can so you are familiar with the anatomy and learn the scientific names of the body parts and their purpose. Practice how you will say it until you feel comfortable. Pray, so Allah(swt) makes it easy for you insha Allah. Ask Allah(swt) to make it easy for you and He will insha Allah.
You can have this discussion over a few sessions and ask your daughter if she has any question. But don’t be alarmed if she doesn’t come up with a bunch of questions, she might feel embarrassed or even confused. Just be patient and keep reassuring her so she knows that you are there to help when she needs it. You can also have her friends over and make a life science class out of it. Organize a tea party, serve healthy snacks to keep the setting cozy and calm so girls feel comfortable discussing about it.
It may seem challenging to talk about puberty, but trust me you will feel so much more connected to your child once you start talking about it. You will be excited to reach another milestone in motherhood insha Allah.