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Making babies, puberty before it hits and teenage development

The facts

  • 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 and friends were fundamental to enhancing self-esteem

“Because you’ll get fat” isn’t a wise answer to the question “Why can’t I have another ice cream?” Emphasise strong bodies, healthy teeth etc over weight as motivation for eating well.

Monitor toys and media for unrealistic representations of bodies, too. Point them out!

Use correct names as well as family names for body parts to help stave off body shame. Would you teach 'tootsies' without ever saying the word 'toes'?


Lexx Brown-James’ book These Are My Eyes, This Is My Nose, This Is My Vulva, These Are My Toes can help!

With your child, check out: 


Pink Protest

Bloody Good Period


They’re validation of women’s experiences, they’re raising awareness and their activism is normalising the conversation

Natasha Devon’s Naked Beach programme on Channel 4 teaches us that being surrounded by body-confident people has a big impact, so model body comfort yourself as far as possible: this means avoiding conversation about dieting and “ugly” or “fat” bodies

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"

How To Help Your Child with their Body Image, 

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. 

Lissa Rankin – How to Talk to Your Tween About Periods (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!

Don't expect a barrage of questions, even if school is abuzz with who’s got what so far – so 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?” 

‘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 whether and your daughter would like to celebrate

More help with #Bodies&BodyImage
Be Real body confidence logo.png
Follow Natasha Devon’s Be Real campaign for the latest body-image resources and stories  Go to Be Real >
BE REAL | Body image resources
Hey sigmund.jpg

A great guide that doesn’t ignore emotional and psychological as well as physical developments. (See also Preparing For (And Surviving) Puberty, aimed at parents of children with a learning disability)  Go to Hey Sigmund >

HEY SIGMUND | Guide for Parents
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Young sex and relationships YouTuber Hannah Witton has a series called The Hormone Diaries – including “Things You Should Learn About Periods in School”. Point your daughter or son this way  Watch Hannah >

HANNAH WITTON | The Hormone Diaries
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