Nobody truly enjoys puberty, but it's a stage of life we all go through. If your tween is approaching puberty
, you should be aware of a few challenges or problems that might pop up during the experience. Being prepared is the best way to help your tween and get through this difficult phase of life.
Puberty Problems You Might Encounter
Early or Late Puberty: If puberty begins earlier or later than their peers, tweens may feel self-conscious and anxious. Precocious puberty is the term used to define puberty when it hits earlier than normal, and girls who experience precocious puberty may begin to develop long before they are ready. In addition, these children may experience taunting and bullying from their peers, making the experience even more difficult. Boys, on the other hand, may feel awkward if puberty begins later or after his peers.
Unhealthy Body Image: When children hit puberty they become self-aware and unfortunately, that may mean they become very critical of their own bodies. Children may obsess over acne, hair, and weight -- even children who were previously secure with their bodies. Parents whose children are overly critical of their own bodies can help in numerous ways. For starters, be sure you don't criticize your child's weight or appearance, and point out that the public figures or models we see in magazines or television often don't look like they appear in the media, as their images are enhanced or "perfected" using technology. In addition, offer up positive tips on eating healthy and getting exercise for your child's growing and changing body.
Sexual Experimentation: Puberty means that your child is growing up and on his or her way to becoming an adult. Some tweens who go through puberty may be tempted to experiment with sex, putting themselves at risk in numerous ways. It's important your tween knows where you stand regarding sex and that he or she understands your expectations for them. In addition, any child who has gone through puberty should know how to prevent pregnancy, STDs and other potential dangers. Provide your child with important information, and be sure he or she knows that you are always willing to talk and discuss important issues. It's also a good idea to stay in touch with other parents, so that you know what's going in your child's school and with his peers.
Parent/Child Tension: When a child goes through puberty both parents and children experience a great deal of change. Tension between parent and child can result from puberty, as your child pulls away from you and attempts to become independent. Of course, parents know that children aren't yet ready to take complete control over their lives, but the tweens don't always realize that. Try to minimize tension by giving your child a little more independence, and by rewarding responsible behavior. Take the time to bond with your child in new ways, and by allowing your tween to make friends a priority in his life.
Bad Decision Making: Adolescence is a time of risk taking, and that may mean that your child may experiment with drinking, drugs or other dangerous behaviors. Again, the best defense is to establish an open line of communication with your tween. Talk about these dangers and why you want your tween to avoid them. Be supportive and let your child know that he can talk to you about what's happening at school, in the neighborhood and with friends.