Welcome to the turbulent time of your child’s puberty. Middle schoolers experience bodily changes, which include increasing hormones. This might make your child behave in unusual ways. This is okay; they still love you. Your number one job is to move through this period with grace. Here are some handy things to keep in mind about this special time for your child:

MENTAL HEALTH

  • Stick to Your Rules. A growing need for independence means tweens may test the boundaries of established rules. Decide which rules can be eased and which must remain in place.
  • Getting the Blues. Look for signs of depression, which can include irritability, sadness, loss of interest in activities, poor academic performance and talk of suicide.
  • Almost 1 in 3 U.S. students in grades 6 – 12 experienced bullying.In addition, 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools[1]. Talk to your child about how to get help if they are being bullied and what to do if they see a friend being bullied. Being a bystander is not okay for our children.

Are your worried about your child’s mental health? Take this quiz – http://childmind.org/symptomchecker/.

SEXUAL HEALTH

Be Ready to Talk. Be prepared to answer questions about puberty and the feelings associated with those changes. Encourage your child to bring his or her questions or concerns to you. Be ready for “The Talk” about sex and relationships.

Talk openly about sex and encourage your child to wait until he or she is older to engage in sexual activity with others. Explain the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancy.

Female Health[2]Your little girl is becoming a woman; be ready to talk about it.

  • Breast Development – Her breasts can start to develop by age 11. Often one breast will grow faster than the other will. Be ready to support your daughter through these changes.
  • Periods – In girls, the first menstrual period usually occurs by age 13, but it can come as late as age 15. Talk to your daughter about menstruation before it occurs and encourage her to come to you once it does.

Male Health[3]: Your son will have some special concerns; be ready to talk about them:

  • Voice Change – Your son’s voice might change and get “crackle-y”.
  • Erections – Assure your son that erections and “wet dreams” are normal.
  • Breast Enlargement – The breast tissue on young men might get bigger during puberty. It usually goes away after a few months.
  • Testicle Lower Than The Other – Assure him that uneven testicles are normal and common.

GET MORE INFORMATION:

[1] Bullying: Statistics and Information.  http://americanspcc.org/bullying/statistics-and-information/?gclid=CjwKEAjwsMu5BRD7t57R1P2HwBgSJABrtj-RE19g_S25F2SKx_JsZ_MtKavqL6CM13c_5roIIq7TZBoC3Mbw_wcB

[2] “Concerns Girls Have About Puberty” https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/puberty/Pages/Concerns-Girls-Have-About-Puberty.aspx

[3] “Concerns Boys Have About Puberty” https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/puberty/Pages/Concerns-Boys-Have-About-Puberty.aspx