The 7-Minute Talk: Talking to Your Pre-Adolescent Daughter About Puberty
Two important recommendations for parents of 8-9 year old girls.
- Now is the time to teach your daughter about her reproductive system if you haven’t already started those conversations. This will prepare her for the changes coming with puberty.
- Teach her through tiny bits of information I call the 7-minute talk.
If your daughter is 8-9 years old, her body will soon be changing as she enters puberty. She will be surprised as she begins to notice the changes, but likely a little uncomfortable to ask you about them. The last thing they want is a “big talk” about how they are changing. I want to introduce a new idea called the 7-minute talk.
The 7-minute talk is perfect for girls this age. It is also easy for parents because you only need to teach one small concept at a time. These are casual moments with your child that focus on one concept you would like them to understand.
Begin with a question: What do you know about puberty?
Your response: Puberty is when your body starts changing as you become a young teen. One of the first changes you will notice is that you start smelling different. This is normal.
The reason this happens at the beginning of puberty is because of changes in your skin. There are good bacteria that live in your skin. Also, in your skin are glands that produce a fluid we call sweat. At the beginning of puberty, testosterone, a puberty hormone, tells glands In certain places like your armpits and near your genitals, to make a sweat that the bacteria really like. The bacteria drink in the sweat and produce a gas. That gas is your body odor. Testosterone has this effect at the beginning of puberty. That’s why a change in your body odor also lets you know you have started puberty. We’ll buy deodorant when the time is right. It might be interesting to know that boys also have this change at the beginning of puberty. It will probably be obvious!
It’s always good to add, this is normal, to all of your small talks at this age. They are wondering if what is happening to their body means something is wrong. By the time you ask the question and give one simple answer, your seven minutes is up. They are probably ready to end the talk and walk away, but be reassured they have learned one important concept about puberty.
Small talks with your daughter over the next couple of years add up to a lot of learning on their part. But maybe even more important, they become the foundation of an open relationship between you and your daughter. It becomes natural to have spontaneous talks as they mature and you will treasure that.
You might want to have a favorite treat ready to sweeten the talk.
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