Tips for Talking About Puberty With Your Kids

Three common challenges and how to overcome them

talking to your teen

Just wait until they’re teenagers” is likely the most frustrating phrase a parent will hear as their kids pass through infancy, toddlerhood, and beyond. Moms in particular will cringe when we remember ourselves as teen girls, and what we have to look forward to the second time around the rollercoaster phase of puberty… this time with our own daughters. As a mom of four, including two girls, I have plenty of insider knowledge to share on topics like planning for unpredictable mood swings or the best ways to explain that body odour is natural and can be controlled with the right deodorant.

Recently, I had the opportunity to co-host a mother-daughter event on behalf of P&G and where I spoke with a vibrant group of 20 moms and uncovered the top three challenges they face when it comes to their kids and puberty.

My kids are too embarrassed to talk with me.

Let’s be honest, what kid really wants Mom or Dad to sit her down for “the talk”? It’s too formal and unnatural for children to feel comfortable to open up or be receptive to what you have to say. So why not break “the talk” out into several conversations rather than one sit-down session? This will give your kids time to digest what you’ve discussed and to think of additional questions they may want to ask you later. I always find car rides a good time to chat. After all, you have a receptive audience, and you’re both looking straight ahead, instead of uncomfortably into each other’s eyes.

Another tip this group of moms shared is to find natural ways to introduce the topic of puberty, such as referencing a book they’ve been reading or a movie they’re interested in. Just think of the possibilities for conversations you could have after watching the hit film, My Girl, together, or not quickly turning the channel when a feminine product ad comes on TV, but instead watching it and asking questions about it after.

Most importantly, though, start the conversation early. It’s vital to talk about puberty before it happens so that when the time comes, your kids will better understand the changes they’re experiencing and what else to expect. Not to mention that you can be sure they get accurate information from you before they start talking with their friends.

Myths and misconceptions about puberty are causing my kids unnecessary concern.

We all know kids talk with one another, but unfortunately there are a lot of misconceptions about puberty being shared. This is why it’s important to talk about puberty with your kids before it happens. The first step is to educate yourself before you talk to your kids. You’ll want to be able to clearly explain what is involved with menstruation, including what signs to expect before her first period arrives, what is normal, and what is not normal. It’s also important to talk about the changes both boys and girls experience during puberty—don’t just limit it to what your daughter should expect. It’s important for girls to know what boys at this age are going through and vice versa, and to know they’re not alone.

Do a reality check and start the conversation by asking your kids what they already know about puberty. Many girls still think you cannot go swimming while you have your period, or that random bears will attack them, even in an urban centre!

My daughter is experiencing puberty-related changes and I seem to be the only one in the house who knows what she’s going through.

Many parents flounder when their daughter transitions into a young woman. While the responsibility often lies with Mom to deal with all things puberty-related, it’s just as important for dads and even brothers to understand what these young girls are experiencing. Dads also need to feel comfortable talking openly with their daughters, and have feminine care products available as he might be the only parent around when her period happens, particularly for the first time.

Children are intuitive, so the more confident you can be when talking about periods, bodily changes and sexuality; the more confident your kids will feel about facing puberty too. Fortunately, there are many online resources available for parents who are looking for advice on having these important discussions with their daughters. With some preparation and help, it doesn’t have to be daunting for you or your daughter to feel better prepared for the years ahead.

Kathy Buckworth is an award winning writer, public speaker, and television personality.  She is the author of six books, including “I Am So The Boss of You: An 8 Step Guide to Giving Your Family The Business” which was published in March, 2013 by the McClelland Stewart imprint of Random House.  Warner Brothers Television has purchased the rights for this book.  She is also the author of “Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children & Chardonnay”.  Her books have been translated into Chinese, Indonesian and other languages, and are available on  She is a columnist Post City Magazines and contributes to the Metro News,, the Huffington Post, Zoomer Magazine, ParentsCanada, Canadian Living, and GoodLife.  She is a regular guest expert on CBC’s Steven and Chris and appears regularly on Breakfast Television, CanadaAM and CBC radio.  Kathy is a two time winner of the Professional Writers Association of Canada Award for Excellence in Humour, and is the recipient of the Mississauga Arts Award for Established Literary Arts. She was recently announced as one of Canada’s Favourite Moms by Canadian Living Magazine, and recognized by the Huffington Post as a top parenting Tweeter to follow.  She has over 18 years of corporate marketing experience, with CIBC, Royal Bank, Telus and Coca Cola Foods. She is the Chief Family Advisor for Presidents Choice Financial and PCPlus, and has also acted as corporate/media spokesperson/social media consultant for many other companies such as Procter & Gamble, Maple Leaf Foods, Research In Motion, Pfizer and LeapFrog Toys.

Kathy is a board director for the Mississauga Arts Council and also serves on the board of the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee. She lives with her material (four kids) and husband (more material) in the Toronto area. She is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Writers Union of Canada, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Travel Media Association of Canada.

Kathy helps Moms everywhere laugh and realize that balance is just something you need to do while putting on your peep-toe heels. And you are so the boss of them.

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