Mar 3, 2018

Turning Teen: How To Talk To Your Tween About Puberty

If you have a child near puberty age then I'm sure you already know what I'm about to tell you: it's awkward.  But it doesn't have to be... well, for us parents anyway.  We did our time on that roller coaster and now it's our job to supervise the next wave of riders: our children.



Growing up in the 90's had its challenges but one thing I'm forever grateful for is that I didn't have access to the internet when I was going through puberty and adolescence.  I have no idea what I would have googled but I guarantee you it would not have ended well.  It's not easy to be a kid, and it's much less easy to be a kid whose peers are watching your every move via Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and whatever else new website that I don't know about because I'm 35.   It's tough.  And without an open dialog between parents/caregivers and their children it can be even harder.  That's where Turning Teen comes in - and I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with my daughter in exchange for writing this review.

Turning Teen is a series of workshops curated by two local Doc-Moms designed to take the guesswork - and awkwardness - out of the conversation regarding puberty.  Intended for the 8 and up crowd, these workshops tackle the hard questions like, "Why do girls get periods?", "What is the real difference between girls and boys?" and "Why do my armpits smell so bad?".  The talk we attended was called Body Basics for Girls and the main goal was to stress the importance of body safety and autonomy while using the correct terms to discuss each body part. 

My daughter was quick to nominate me to hold one of these body safety signs

At the beginning of the event each girl is given a note card to jot down questions (which are read anonymously at the end of the workshop), a set of emoji sticks to let each girl answer questions about feelings, an activity sheet for her to jot down what changes she thinks will occur to her body during puberty, and a pencil.


Hair.  So much hair everywhere!
Dr. Carrie uses Flo, a plush uterus, to help kids visualize what happens during menstruation

Body Basics also covered a range of topics such as the 6 signs of impending puberty and how to tackle each of them, similarities and differences between the two sexes, and addressing stereotypes.  One thing I did notice was the talk was very binary when discussing girls and boys; though it did address stereotypes (ie: girls can have short hair and boys are allowed to like pink) it did not at all mention transgender individuals.  I felt like this was a missed opportunity and my hope is that it will one day be added to the Turning Teen workshops.  What about those children who are assigned a girl at birth but are now at war with their feelings - and seemingly their bodies - during puberty?  What about those children who suffer from body dysphoria and would benefit from learning about non-binary gender identities?

Overall, I really enjoyed the workshop.  I felt it was full of information that kids and their caregivers need to know, and it spurred some fun conversations (yes, really!) in the car on the way home.  My daughter is actually excited to go shopping for her first training bra - a far, far cry from when I went with my mom, full of shame and embarrassment about my changing body.  Something that I didn't expect was how much we laughed during the workshop!  Dr. Carrie made a point to assure the kids that all of their feelings, fears, and embarrassments were totally normal and relatable.

Yep!  She knows that AND the correct names for all her parts!

At the end of the talk you are presented with the opportunity to purchase some books (It's So Amazing and Will Puberty Last My Whole Life?)  and souvenir emoji sticks.

These books are recommended by Flo


 You can find Turning Teen workshops all over the Metro Detroit area.  There are four available: Body Basics for Girls (8+), Body Basics for Boys (10+), Being My Best Self for Girls (10+), and Surviving Puberty a Second Time (just for parents).  Metro Detroit Mommy fans can save $5 by using the code MDM5 at check out!

So what about you?  Do you feel prepared for puberty or could you use some pointers? What do you wish someone had told you when you were just starting this journey?

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer:

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