Puberty can be a tricky topic of conversation with your child. For one thing, your son might feel awkward talking through physical changes with a parent. It can also be difficult to accept that your son is growing up and becoming a sexual being. Puberty starts around ages 10 to 13 in boys, and there’s no avoiding it. We’ve all been through it, and as a parent, you might as well be the one to give your child the right information! It’s better that boys talk to their parents, rather than relying on their friends, or the internet, which might not always be the most appropriate or reliable of sources. We’ve already blogged about how to talk to your daughter about menstruation; please refer to that link here if you have a daughter: http://www.explorewhatsnext.com/how-to-explain-menstruation-to-your-daughter/ . If you have a son, the experience is going to be a little different. Here are five tips for talking to your son about puberty:
Talking About Puberty Tip #1
There’s a right way to masturbate. Boys are going to masturbate. It’s normal and it can be healthy, but it can get messy when they are using nice towels, clothing, or sheets as a place to “mark their territory.” A lot of boys might not realize at first that semen stains, and it doesn’t always come out in the wash. Teach them to masturbate in the shower, or to have a designated towel for it—one that isn’t shared with the rest of the household. Teach them to do this in private, and to use lotion or some kind of lubricant to prevent chafing. I know that this sounds awkward, but it’s better for everyone for boys to know the right way to masturbate.
Talking About Puberty Tip #2
Give them a lesson in shaving. A lot of boys start to feel proud when they see those first hairs popping up above their upper lip. It’s a sign that they are becoming men, and it’s something to be excited about! However, when facial hair first starts growing in, it can look messy and awkward. Teach them to shave regularly, with shaving cream, and use after-shave, or lotion, afterwards to prevent those red bumps and dry skin.
Talking About Puberty Tip #3
Emphasize basic personal hygiene. When boys start going through puberty, they need to start using deodorant and showering, daily. Teach them to change their underwear and socks every day. Tell them that they need to scrub their private parts in the shower. This might sound like basic stuff for an adult, but young boys don’t have a clue. It will be worth it for them to know these things when they’re in the locker room at school.
Talking About Puberty Tip #4
Normalize the changes, even the “awkward” ones. It’s a good idea to prepare your son for the changes that are going to happen, so that they don’t feel uncertain about what’s “normal.” Let them know that they will start to grow pubic hair, and it’s normal for their voices to crack, and for acne to pop up on their faces or backs. It also a good idea to explain how to handle wet dreams, or having an orgasm while sleeping. Let them know that this is perfectly normal, and that they should wash their sheets after a wet dream. It’s important to make your son feel that these changes aren’t anything to be ashamed of, and that they are just part of growing up.
Talking About Puberty Tip #5
Let them know they can always come to you for support. Puberty can be so much harder when you have a parent that isn’t helping you through it, or makes the topic “taboo.” Be the kind of parent who can provide support and information to your son, and let him know that you are always available to help. If you need to direct them to a friend to give them the run-down on puberty, then that can be okay, too. Just make sure that your son knows he has your support, in whatever capacity you’re able to provide it in.
Boys going through puberty are also reaching an age where some mental health issues may begin to manifest, like increased anxiety or depressive symptoms. Puberty is a difficult transition, and sometimes boys need temporary therapeutic support to move through it. Know that you can reach out to the therapists at Explore What’s Next, at either of our offices in Buffalo or Amherst, if you start to notice any significant emotional changes in your child.
Cool Photo by Josh Applegate
Cool Advice by a real therapist:
Christine Frank, LMSW
Christine understands what it’s like when you’re trying your hardest and an invisible hand is holding you back. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or stupid, or unworthy of good things—it just means you could use some help. It helps to connect with someone who knows that your stories are worth listening to. Christine will hear your story. She’s a great listener.
Christine is easy-going, friendly, empathetic, non-judgmental. She’s funny and real in a down to earth way. She loves working with pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults to help them move through those difficult life transitions where a person can feel lost.
With Christine’s guidance and encouragement you can take the first step to a happier, healthier life.
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