How parents can tackle the changes in needs and wants of kids as they hit puberty

Puberty, in simple terms, is the time when a girl or a boy starts becoming mature, cognitively and sexually as a result of which children often witness behavioural changes. It’s a time when the child's hormones change rapidly and consequently, feelings become more intense and stronger.  The age of 8-14 years is tough for kids as they suffer uncharted emotions - anger, anxiety, fear, and go through emotions that they have never experienced before.

How can parents help their kids deal with this emotional roller-coaster?

The emotional baggage that a child carries during the time of puberty is because of the changes that happen in their bodies. Not only the outside, but the hormones are also responsible for the changes inside. At one moment they are joyful, the other moment they are miserable. During this time, as the body is adjusting to new hormonal changes, so is the brain.

As they grow and notice the change in their body parts, children end up getting confused about the changes that they see. They start comparing themselves with others and that is what triggers most of the insecurities. The kids see rapid changes in their bodies while they are dealing with self-consciousness.  Sometimes, it is exciting for them as they develop new emotions and feelings. These emotional rides have psychological and emotional effects, such as low self-esteem, depression, unexplained mood swings, and aggression. Puberty is an essential part of human growth and it becomes a tough journey for kids as well as parents, especially moms.

This is the time when parents need to be very supportive and attentive to their children. The changes in needs of boys and girls during puberty are quite different as there is a vast difference in the bodily changes of both pre-teen boys and girls. Sometimes they need clear advice and guidance on some issues like periods and boys might need to know about their changing body shape. As a parent, you can help them understand their body and mind better.

For instance, the first menstruation can be a frightening experience for girls. As parents, it is significant to become their go-to friend from the very beginning of this growth journey. As a parent, one should not shy away from teaching their kid on how to use a sanitary napkin, how to understand their mood swings during PMsing, examining their breast changes and also throwing light on the perks of wearing a bra. Diet and nutrition plays a pivotal role in providing the correct nourishment to young girls.

Boys also go through a lot of insecurities as they hit puberty. As parents, one should not ignore the changes. Growth of body hair, changes in voice and involuntary erections can often lead to embarrassment and low self esteem. Parents must guide their boys for not only tackling their behavioural shifts but also educate them on changes in the opposite sex. As their body changes, they need apt nutrition to nurture and strengthen their immunity. 

Here are some things parents can do to help their kids cope with the puberty transition: 

  • Be The Guiding Pillar

The best way that you can support your child is by reassuring them that you are there no matter what and it is just the beginning of adulthood. Supporting them in however way they want to accept their bodily changes will be positive for the kid. Puberty also causes many children to compare themselves with other children's bodies. It might cause insecurity. It is the time when as a parent, your patience and compassion will be tested the most.

  • Be a Good Listener

It is believed that listening carefully and patiently can solve many issues. Maintain your calm and acknowledge their feelings. Many times a kid gets scared and refrains from telling what they feel. At this time, as a parent you need to listen to them. Understand what they are trying to convey. Make a safe space for them to share their emotional roller-coaster feelings. Let them know that they can share anything without being judged.

  • Be a proactive friendly teacher

Parents are a child's first teacher. You can’t be shy in teaching your kids. Guide them through this process, support them at every stage of puberty. Your support will help them overcome their insecurities. Introduce fun teaching methods like watching edutainment videos together, introduce weekend chit chat sessions at their favourite spot - at a park or a restaurant, do anything that excites them to share their thoughts with you.

  • Educate yourself and stay updated

There is no age for learning. As a parent, every day you learn something new. Continue reading about what goes on in a young mind, what video games they like and who is their idol. If you stay updated on the trends, you’ll have more reasons to talk to them.

  • Give your child a little space

As important as it is to be with your child at every step of the way, it is also necessary to provide your kid with a little space. You need to be their friend, but not like the ones who stick around for free lunch! Duh. Be there when they need you the most. Otherwise, leave them on their own, in this journey they will discover a new self, learn to deal with their emotions and have a wonderful youth ahead.

Make sure your child is comfortable with you and is not hiding anything that he/she thinks is important. Not only about their body in particular, but both girls and boys should be taught about the changes in bodies of both genders, proactively. Moreover, consulting a nutritionist and giving them a right diet is the key to holistic development. Protein is known is the building block of the body and should form an important constituent of your young one’s plate. You will be surprised to know that our body needs 1 gram of protein per kg body weight, and if the kid is active and growing, he or she will need more.

Stay informed and see a healthy child grow!