Puberty starts between 8 and 13 for girls, and 9 and 14 for boys, says Childline
52% of 11- to 16-year-olds regularly worry about how they look, according to Be Real’s Somebody Like Me report
A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image found that 75% of people hold the media, advertising and celebrity culture primarily responsible for body-image attitudes – but that supportive family & friends were fundamental to enhancing self-esteem
Only 1% of parents use the word “vulva” with their children, 44% use a euphemism like “flower” or “fairy” – and 20% don’t speak to their daughters about that part of their bodies at all!
See 10 tips for using correct terms & talking openly about bodies at #EducatingEve
Use correct terms for body parts as well as family nicknames so as not to convey body shame. Would you say “tootsies” without ever using the word ”toes”?
Lexx Brown-James’s book These Are My Eyes, This Is My Nose, This Is My Vulva, These Are My Toes can help!
Point out unrealistic images of bodies in toys, ads, films, the media. Natasha Devon’s Naked Beach programme on Channel 4 teaches us that being around body-confident people makes a positive impact. So model body comfortableness as best you can. Don’t talk about dieting or use the word “ugly”
A helpful tone on the topic of body image falls somewhere between sympathy and encouraging realism:
“I remember having a real problem with my tummy. It’s tough but a lot of people struggle with how they look then find new ways of looking at it. You will too”
“Being active in other areas – such as clubs, sports or hobbies – where your young person can excel is a good way to ensure that their body image is not so central to their identity”
– Parenting NI
“Take her on a tour of the feminine hygiene aisle and answer any questions she might have. Let her buy a variety of products so she can take them on a test run and see what she likes best”
How to Talk to Your Tween About Periods – Lissa Rankin (Psychology Today)
If there’s one thing that school does pretty well it’s puberty, so your children should be equipped with the facts, but it’s worth reading KidsHealth’s Understanding Puberty guide for parents or this more technical (and very useful) guide from Hey Sigmund. We guarantee you didn’t already know it all!
“First moon” or “red tent” parties – yes or no? Test the waters with this comedy video (totally age appropriate for a 10-year-old).
Use it as a way in to discuss if you and your daughter would like to celebrate her first period.
See also the great Period Fairy…
I used to be terrified to ever show parts of my body that I didn’t think were perfect. Learning that perfection doesn’t exist and that beauty lies in those flaws and those individualities and nuances is just the most liberating thing ever
– actor Aimee Lou Wood, who plays Aimee in Sex Education
Don’t expect a barrage of questions, even if school is abuzz with who’s got what so far. Ask your child if talk about bodies is troubling them.
Your key messages: “Puberty happens to everyone at different times” and “We all end up looking different and unique – isn’t that great though?”
More help with #Bodies&BodyImage
Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may all need different support.
If you’re in doubt about your child’s emotional, physical or psychological development, please seek the advice of a professional