It can be challenging or even embarrassing to talk with your pre-teen about their hygiene, but it’s important to address this conversation in a positive way. An open and honest discourse will set the tone for your future conversations about more intimate matters, so this conversation requires some preparation.
Be as Specific as Possible
Know what you’re talking about and try to be as specific as you are comfortable being. Instead of just telling a young lady that she will need to start shaving under her arms, lead into the conversation gently with some facts about what is happening to her body. She probably has some questions that she’s wanted to ask and she needs to know that everything happening to her is completely normal and that her feelings are valid.
Remain Age Appropriate
Make your conversation age-appropriate. An unfortunate fact of life in the modern world is that children are starting puberty at younger ages. The average age for a young woman to start menstruating was 14 in 1900, and now the average age is 12. Many 9 year old’s are experiencing symptoms of puberty. A child starting puberty will need to have information presented to them in a different way than a teenager would.
Ask for Input
Ask them about their feelings on the subject, so that your child can choose the product they want to use. Chances are, there is a favorite body-wash, deodorant, cologne or training bra that is popular at school and peer pressure being what it is, your child will probably want that type.
Use Gentle Reminders
Remind them of what they need to do, but not when other people are around. Just like you had to remind them to brush their teeth and make their bed when they were younger, you might also need to remind them to use deodorant. And when they forget, it’s a good idea to put travel size containers of deodorant and body wipes in purses, backpacks or lockers. After a mile around the track when it’s 95 degrees, they’ll thank you.
Take Some Time Out
And lastly, just as you probably celebrated your child’s first steps and first words, their first day of school and their first sleepover…celebrate puberty. Your son or daughter is taking the first steps towards maturity and that is worthy of celebration. A party isn’t necessary, but a nice dinner and an observance of the change that is occurring could make your child see that they can always come to you. It’s a difficult time for a child, but pointing out the positive aspects of puberty can have a lasting effect on how they see themselves.
Puberty, and the changes that go with it, can be difficult for parents and children alike to deal with.
However; it has been proven that families that have clear communication about challenging topics stand a better chance of making it through the difficult adolescent years unscathed. This may be the first conversation on a subject like this that you share, but it should not be your last.
About the Author: Tamela Longo enjoys helping parents communicate with their children. When she’s not helping her children, she’s often helping others learn to use online fax services and other online programs.