Things kids should know about puberty

Many children will receive some sex education at school.

Many children will receive some sex education at school.

Often, though, the lessons are segregated, and the girls hear primarily about menstruation and training bras, while the boys hear about erections and changing voices.

It is important that girls learn about the changes boys go through and that boys learn about those affecting girls, so check with your child's teacher about his or her lesson plans so you know what gaps need to be filled.

It might help you ease into a conversation if you coordinate your talks with your child with these school lessons.

Do most parents know what to say? When talking to your child about puberty, it's important to offer reassurance that these changes are normal. Puberty brings about so many changes and it's easy for your child to feel insecure.

Many times, adolescents will express insecurity about their appearance as they go through puberty, but it can be helpful to know that everyone goes through the same things.

Acne, mood changes, growth spurts and hormonal changes - it's all part of growing up and everyone goes through it, but not always at the same pace.

Girls may begin puberty as early as second or third grade, and it can be upsetting if your daughter is the first one to get a training bra, for example. She may feel alone and awkward or like all eyes are on her in the school locker room.

With boys, observable changes include the deepening of the voice and the growth of facial hair. And just as with girls, if your son is an early bloomer, he may feel awkward or like he's the subject of stares from his classmates.

Your child should know the following about puberty:

l Girls become more rounded, especially in the hips and legs.

l Girls' breasts begin to swell and then grow.

l Girls and boys get pubic hair and underarm hair, and their leg hair becomes thicker and darker.

l Boys' penises and testicles grow larger.

l Boys' voices change and become deeper.

l Boys sometimes have wet dreams, which means they ejaculate in their sleep.

l When a girl begins menstruating, once a month, her uterine lining fills with blood in preparation for a fertilised egg. If the egg isn't fertilised, she will have a period. If it is fertilised, she will become pregnant. - Kidshealth