This time in the school year we look closely at transitions. Transitions include moving from one experience to another. Older children, grades 4 and 5 and up are starting to experience changes in their bodies and starting puberty.
For some, just hearing the word Puberty makes them cringe. Adults remember their experiences, emotions and awkwardness at this age. For children entering puberty they often have misinformation or no information and are unsure of what to expect.
Grade 5 is starting to cover this topic in their current unit. They are looking at transitions around the world, and a piece of that is puberty. Many cultures have traditions around children entering puberty that are quite fascinating to explore.
Early on children become interested in their bodies and how they work and change. At age 6, my son was very interested in how to grow a mustache! We had to tell him he had to wait until he was older. He asked why? Children will ask all kinds of questions along the way. So it is important to know the answer to these questions. Telling them that a stork brought a baby or they were found in a cabbage patch might be a fun way to avoid the sex conversation. But eventually, wouldn’t you rather that conversation come from you instead of a Youtube video?
Kids in primary school are mostly interested in how bodies work. They want to know names and functions of parts. They will ask where babies come from, and how they are inside the mom. Do you have age appropriate answers for that? (If not, see resources below)
Here are a few tips to deal with these types of questions:
- Remain calm! If you project anxiety or shame on the topic, your child will know and wonder why this topic is so taboo. In some cultures it IS taboo to talk about, however, your child is now in 2017 and attending an international school, they need to learn the facts.
- It is OK to say you don’t know, tell them you can get back to them with the answer if you need to look something up.
- Tell the truth! Use science to help back you up. Kidshealth.org is so useful for this!
- Clarify what exactly they are asking about. They might be asking only about parts and function, and do not really need the entire story at that time. Let them guide you in what they want to know.
- Curiosity about body parts and how they work is normal. Nothing about our bodies should be seen as taboo, dirty or naughty. This helps kids develop a healthy self image.
- Spend time together to provide space for these types of conversations. Plan a lunch, bike ride or time to play a board game together. Conversations around this topic are often spontaneous.
- Be prepared to be surprised by what they might ask! KIS is encouraging children to be thinkers, curious and open minded, even in this topic area.
Please let me know if you have any other ideas, comments or questions about this topic.