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Mom and tween daughter reading a book together

Talking to Kids About Their Bodies, Privacy and Puberty

Have you ever wondered when you should start talking to your child about their body, privacy, and puberty? While I don’t believe there is a specific age, time, or circumstance that applies to every child, I do believe the conversation should start early, and as naturally as possible.

We introduced the topic of privacy to our daughter when she was 3 by explaining to her the difference between “good” and “bad” touches. We taught her what to say if anyone tried to touch her "private parts." I remember that day clearly. Sophia, Ryan, and I were sitting in her room at a small, pink, butterfly table. We told her that if someone tried to do a bad touch, she should yell, "No! Don’t touch my privates!" After several minutes of chanting our new phrase, we quizzed her 3-year-old brain. "Sophia?" I asked. "Tell mommy what you'd say if someone tries to touch your privates." Those sweet light gray eyes looked up at us, she put her palm in the air and yelled: "Don’t touch my PIRATES!"

Shiver me timbers! We didn’t see that laughter-inducing exclamation coming!

We've spent time building upon that first conversation with Sophia, who’s now 11. On the verge of puberty, she needs to know about body changes and expectations. With phones, the internet, and social media, not only are kids exposed to sexual images early, they also are curious about what they see and hear. I don't know about you, but I want my daughter to explore these topics with me, in person, and not with her peers through text messages. My husband and I have naturally allowed these conversations to evolve in an age-appropriate way so that Sophia can understand and feel comfortable talking to us when the tougher questions come along.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when talking to your child about their body and puberty:

  • Keep the conversation simple, age-appropriate and matter-of-fact.
  • Resist showing judgment through facial expressions, body language or words. Kids need a safe place to ask questions.
  • Use anatomy books instead of pictures from the internet, which often sexualize the body and its functions.
  • Listen to your child. Understanding their thoughts and feelings is key when navigating topics about body parts, privacy, puberty, and sex.
  • Don’t stop listening or talking when the conversation feels uncomfortable. That’s when your child needs your input most.

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About Adrianna and Ryan Walden

About Adrianna and Ryan  Walden Ryan and Adrianna Walden have been married for 14 years. The two met when she was working for an arena football team in Norfolk where he was playing football. Ryan is a service coordinator with the Chesapeake Early Intervention Program and Adrianna is a Licensing Specialist for Children's Programs. Both have enjoyed teaching CHKD’s "Happiest Baby" class together for the past eight years. Together they have one daughter, who despite early health issues, is now a thriving and happy school-age child. The Walden's also lead a weekly community group through their church for married couples and their children.