Discussing Puberty with my 9 Year Old

Just before my ninth birthday, my mum made me feel really special by telling me that she had something very important to discuss with me when I turned nine. I can remember her sitting me down when there was no one else around (a rare occurrence in our house!) and explaining puberty to me. She discussed periods and body changes and what I could expect. The one thing that we didn’t speak about at that stage was sex. It meant that I had a great, open relationship with my mum. She went on to explain sex in a bit more detail when I was about 11. From then on I was able to speak to her about anything involving puberty and sex and never felt uncomfortable about it. I knew when Grace was much younger that I would want her to feel the same and be able to have the same relationship with me. 

One of the things I have done since Grace was very little was to be honest with her. Living as a single parent up until Grace was 4 years old meant that she regularly came to the toilet with me. I never hid anything from her and she did start to notice when I had a period. I told her that ladies bled every month and that it didn’t hurt apart from a bit of a tummy ache. This meant that I knew she wouldn’t be too scared when the time came to talk about it properly. More importantly, I didn’t lie to her so it meant that she would trust me.

Last week I ordered an Usborne book from Amazon called ‘What is Happening to Me?’. It was the girls edition, costs £3.99 and is full of facts about puberty. It covers so many things including breasts, how they grow and how to measure for bras, periods, how they happen and the difference between sanitary towels and tampons as well as learning about mood swings and spots. The last section is about boys and the changes they go through – to me it shows Grace that girls are not the only people going through changes at this confusing time. I really like the way it is presented – it is illustrated beautifully and is easy to read.

What is Happening to Me Book on Puberty

Grace has regularly been discussing with us what she has learned ever since. Every so often she repeats what she has remembered and asks me questions. One of the things she was really worried about was starting her period at school in the middle of a classroom. She told me that she wanted to start wearing a liner in her pants just in case. I explained to her that she wouldn’t need to worry and would be likely to get a warning – either a stomach cramp or a small amount of blood. She would be able to carry an individually wrapped sanitary towel in her bag and if it was a real emergency she would be able to use toilet paper. She has told me that she would like to start doing this – just in case.

On Saturday evening, I nipped out to get a takeaway and left Grace and Ross sitting on the sofa about to watch some wrestling. When I returned they hadn’t started their program and were immersed in a conversation so I went into the kitchen and left them to it. Later, Ross explained to me that Grace had asked him to be patient with her as she starts to go through puberty because she is going to have mood swings and find things difficult. Ross said that he understood and that she would probably call him lots of names, tell him that he wasn’t her real dad and stomp off to her room and slam the door. Grace thought about this for a moment and then said that she would try hard not to do this but if she did, she is very, very sorry and she wouldn’t mean it. 

One of the things that Ross did say to her was that he did not really understand about periods and how they worked and, as a result, mum would be a far better person to discuss this with. Grace turned to him and said ‘I am so lucky to be able to talk to my mum about all of this and that she understands. I feel sad for the girls who can’t’.

I am so pleased to hear this and it is thanks to my mum that I am able to apply the lessons I learned from her to my daughter and not feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about speaking to her about the facts of life.

How you decided when will you start discussing puberty with your children?


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14 Comments

  1. January 13, 2016 / 10:15 pm

    It is a great achievement to have such an open, loving relationship – for you and Grace and for Ross and Grace too. I remember I hid the start of my periods from my mother for 6 months, as I was so ashamed that I had started before turning 13 and I didn’t feel able to tell her. I have that same book which I have to my daughter and I think (hope) she feels ok talking to me

    • January 13, 2016 / 11:04 pm

      Thank you so much Louise. I hope all goes well with the discussions with your daughter xx
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  2. January 13, 2016 / 7:57 pm

    Hi Victoria, I remember my Mum having a rather embarrassed chat with me about periods, but that was about it. It wasn’t her fault, it’s just the way she is, but it did make me want to have an open and honest relationship with both my children, in which I feel I have succeeded. Youngsters should never feel as if they can’t ask questions and Grace is right to feel sad for those girls (and boys) who can’t.

    The fact that Grace thinks so highly of Ross that she wants to forewarn him of what maybe to come. I say maybe, as my two have never had catastrophic melt downs where they call us names, and as they are now sixteen and eighteen I’m hoping that we’ve somehow managed to bypass it. Sometimes they do grump, but that’s about it and I do wonder if it’s because we are close and they feel relaxed enough to talk, saying that though it’s only really Catherine that talks, but she talks openly and confidently.

    I can’t say that I ever sat down and had a chat about puberty as it’s something that we talk about as and when it comes up.

    Grace sounds like a lovely little girl and I am sure when the time comes she will handle her periods with no problem, and that is all down to you and Ross.

    xx

    • January 13, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      It sounds like you are a brilliant mum Debbie and that is great about your kids. I am crossing my fingers that Grace is the same as yours but I am sure we will at least get some of it! Thank you so much xx
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  3. January 12, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    That’s such a wonderful post to read. My mother told me absolutely nothing, and what she did impart when she really couldn’t avoid the subject- turned out to be untrue – only married women can use tampax. Yep, I believed that to be true until one of my friends put me right at the age of 16. Talking openly and honestly can only be a good thing in my opinion, and it’s lovely that she’s felt able to talk to Ross too.
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    • January 12, 2016 / 10:52 pm

      Thank you so much Mary. I am so sorry to hear about how your mum handled it – and I am glad that one of your friends was able to help. You are so right about Ross – it really does show that she is comfortable with him 🙂 x
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  4. January 12, 2016 / 12:00 pm

    That is such a lovely post! I love the things Grace said to Ross. I bought the exact same book a few weeks ago, but haven’t had chance to discuss it with my daughter yet. My parents were never open with me and I’m really nervous about having these conversations with my daughter. Grace is a lucky girl to have you!

    • January 12, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      Aww, thanks Sarah. It is not easy speaking about this subject if you are not comfortable with it. I consider myself lucky to have my mum. All the best with your chat 🙂 x
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  5. January 11, 2016 / 6:42 pm

    You have done such a great job talking to Grace…..She sounds like she is so mature and understanding for her age.
    I had the period chat with my eldest when she was about the same age as Grace is….She knew the basics as she had seen me on the toilet over the years….My youngest who is 8 knows some of the basics but she tends not to listen to me….lol This book might be a good idea for her.
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  6. Louisa
    January 11, 2016 / 2:04 pm

    I’ve been looking for a book to give to Bobbins and this sounds like an ideal introduction to the topic. Thanks for highlighting it.

  7. January 11, 2016 / 12:37 pm

    We’ve had that book too and it really is a great one. Always good to have these discussions, puberty is a tricky time for all our children and I’m sooo (not) looking forward to the moods 😉
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