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Healthy You

Helping Kids Manage the Pressure of Puberty

Monday, August 21, 2017 8:06 AM

Maybe you tried to forget it or maybe you still cringe when you think about it, but let’s face it – puberty was not fun. Hormones are running high, acne is popping up everywhere and our body changes from what we once knew. It can be emotionally hard to manage and parents play a vital role in preparing their teens for these changes.


It can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about and Courtney Weems, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, recommends having multiple, smaller conversations to discuss puberty instead of one larger one. While continuing the discussion with your children, be sure to touch on these subjects:

  • Puberty is normal. Everyone goes through it and will experience similar things as your children.
  • It is a stage. Puberty doesn’t happen overnight but over a few years, with each year bringing a new set of changes.
  • Break down the myths. Ask what changes they think puberty will bring and gently correct the myths.
  • Give them positive reinforcement - often. During this time your children’s self-esteem is usually lower and it can be tough for them to feel good about themselves. Encourage them and tell them that you appreciate their different qualities and abilities.
  • Let them know what to expect, physically and emotionally. Go over the changes that they will experience. The more often you talk about these changes, the less scary the changes will be when they start to occur. If they don’t want to talk to you, leave them a book so they can learn it on their own terms.
  • Discuss peer pressure. Preparing them early for situations in which they will be exposed to alcohol, drugs and sex will help them know how to handle these situations when they do occur. 

Having these conversations can be uncomfortable for each of you, but it will only help your children prepare for the next stage of life. Dr. Weems recommends instead of having a serious sit down, casually bring up questions during a car ride, while washing dishes together or another activity where each child does not have to look at you but still can converse with you.

If you want more information on what they can expect, what is “normal” – or someone to help start the conversation – talk with your children’s physician for additional resources.