Helping your Child through Puberty
The day you’ve dreaded is finally here. Your child is becoming a teenager! You may notice that your son or daughter no longer acts like they used to when they were younger and they may demonstrate a whole host of emotions that change before you even have a chance to respond to any of them. What is a father to do?!
For starters, it is important to understand that your child is adjusting to the changes he or she is experiencing as a result of puberty. Your son or daughter is not only adjusting to physical changes, but changes in the way the opposite sex relates to them, changes in the expectations people have of them and changes in the way they understand the world. Keep in mind that it takes time for most people to adjust to change; be sure to provide your child with the love and understanding he or she needs to get through this major transitory period of life.
As a father, you can help your teen weather the storm of puberty by being aware of things your child may be dealing with. Below is a list of several things your child may be dealing with as he or she goes through puberty.
Most teens will experience some form of acne as they go through puberty. Acne can range from moderate to severe and can have a profound impact on a teen’s self-esteem. While the cause of acne is due to clogged pores, the reason pores become clogged is unknown; researchers have, however, found direct links between hormones, diet, stress and genetics. Since acne can be a major issue for teens, it is important to teach your son or daughter how to properly care for his or her skin. Sometimes, despite the best care, genetics are not on your child’s side. If a proper cleansing routine does not reduce your child’s acne breakouts, you may want to consult a dermatologist.
As your child goes through puberty, he or she may become more aware of his or her weight. Your child may become more susceptible to images of the ideal body-type seen in the media and become dissatisfied with their own body. You can help your child develop a healthy self-esteem by helping them take good care of their body through proper diet and exercise. It is important not to tease your child about his or her weight, or make them unnecessarily self-conscious. A poor self-image can lead to serious eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
Every child going through puberty develops at a different rate. Some children start early and shoot up right away, while other children gradually gain height over a period of years. Whatever the case, your child has certain expectations about what height he or she should be based on the height of his or her peers. It is important to reassure your child that everyone grows at different rates.
As your child goes through puberty, he or she will begin to look at the opposite sex in a different way and be more aware of their own body; this can be a stressful and anxious time for your child. It’s important to be open and talk to your child about his or her sexuality. When you talk to your child, you don’t just need to discuss anatomy, but cover a whole range of topics that address values, honesty, relationships, and communication. Don’t count on having one “big talk” with your child; leave the door open for communication and talk about sexuality issues that arise in the normal course of living.
While your son or daughter has likely faced peer pressure as a younger child, as he or she becomes a teenager, the pressure to do things that are more harmful, dangerous or illegal come right along with it. Be sure to discuss ways that your child can avoid giving in to peer pressure. As you discuss peer pressure, it’s important to make sure your child is aware of the situations they may face as a teen. Be sure to discuss things like, drugs, alcohol, smoking, chewing tobacco and sex and why your child should abstain from these activities.
Your son or daughter may not be as predictable as they were when they were younger as they try to negotiate the world as not quite children and not quite adults. As your child is going through puberty, allow them to have the space they need to come to terms with the changes they are experiencing. Be sensitive to your child’s needs and offer support when your child is ready to receive it. During calmer moments, you can talk to your child about the variety of emotions that he or she may be experiencing and assure your child that you are proud of them and they will get through things just fine. If you notice prolonged periods of gloomy withdrawal, you may want to discuss this with your child’s doctor.
As you help your child get through puberty, remember that it won’t last forever. A little humor and a lot of patience can go a long way in getting you through these sometimes turbulent times!