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Puberty

Puberty is the word used to describe the physical and emotional changes that happen for boys and girls as they become adults. It is the process of change by which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction.

It happens at different times for different children – but usually will begin sometime between 9 to 14 years old – it is not a quick process – usually taking around 4 years for the physical changes to complete and the emotional changes take much longer.

On average, girls will complete physical puberty around 15–17 years old and boys at around 16–17. Puberty is a confusing time for young people because of the hormonal changes in the body and in the way they think and feel.

Young people tell us that they often feel unprepared for the changes that come with puberty.

  • 1 in 4 girls start their periods before learning about it at school.
  • 38% of boys experience wet dreams before having learned about them.
  • Young people say they are learning too little too late to prepare them for puberty and adolescence. (Source: National Children’s Bureau, 2016).
  • Almost 15% of young people said they were taught nothing about menstruation in school. (Source: National Children’s Bureau, 2016).
  • From 2020 Relationships and Sex Education will become mandatory in schools. See the RSE guidance document.

    Supporting children and young people to understand puberty prepares them for the physical and emotional changes ahead. It can ensure they have accurate information and reduce anxiety.

    Talking to children from an early age about their minds, bodies and how they work provides good groundwork for an understanding of puberty. Whilst for most children this will be happening at home, for others school will be their only opportunity to learn about their bodies.

    Young people may start to ‘act out’ and their behaviour become more challenging as they move in to puberty. When schools have clear expectations of behaviour and systems of reward and consequences this gives the boundaries adolescents need.

    Puberty can be a time when children make the wrong choices about the people they hangout with, and the decisions they make – watch out for signs in individual pupils that they may be out of their depth and need support and advice.

    Be sensitive to the huge changes puberty brings and how this feels. Time to discuss this is valuable and an opportunity for young people to share their experiences and normalise how they feel.

    Giving young people the tools to manage strong emotions in a healthy way can help them learn the skills to cope with the challenges of the ‘teenage brain’. More information can be found on our emotional regulation and building resilience pages.

    Completing the Solihull Training offered by CCS can help all staff communicate and support adolescents effectively. To book a place on training contact karin.bibby@nhs.net. Parents can also be directed to the free Online Solihull Parenting course on Just One Norfolk *here*.

    On a practical level It is helpful if there is provision in school for items they may need to cope with the physical changes like deodorant and sanitary products.

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How Can We Help?

Just One Number Call to speak to a health professional by phoning 0300 300 0123. They will be able to provide initial advice and support and guide next steps with us or signpost you to other more relevant agencies and professionals. It is available 08.00 to 18.00 Monday to Friday and 09.00 to 13.00 on Saturdays.

Referrals for support are made by contacting Just One Number on 0300 300 0123. Please make sure you have the consent of the parent and / or young person before you make a referral to us. You do not need to fill out any paperwork prior to this call.

Referrals are made via the telephone to enable us to have an informative conversation with you at the point of referral so we can ensure we have all the required information for early triage and assessment of the child, young person or family. This will ensure the referral gets managed by the appropriate team in a more timely way or we can signpost you to a more appropriate service.

ChatHealth Children and Young people can access us through our text messaging service on 07480635060. They will be able to discuss any health concerns with one of our Practitioners and also be able to request an appointment if they would prefer to meet with us.

Parent Line Parents can access our services by texting our number 07520631590 . This allows them to access the advice and support from a clinician about any health issues affecting their children aged 0-19.

Just One Norfolk Health Passport app Young people age 16-19 can download this app on Apple or Android phones. It provides young people age 16-19 with general health information and advice to increase health literacy. It signposts to services and promotes self care. It aims to increase resilience and wellbeing and to find out how to access health services.

Health Unlocked Parents can be signposted to this. It is a carefully monitored online community forum which allows local parents and carers to talk with each other regarding issues affecting their children. This can be accessed through our Just One Norfolk website.

Solihull Parenting Online For our Norfolk parents there is the opportunity to access this free of charge through Just One Norfolk. It supports parents in understanding their children from 0-19 via 4 modules. Staff working with children and families will also benefit from this – or they can book to do the two day Solihull Training provided by our service by contacting karin.bibby@nhs.net. While COVID-19 restrictions are in place please contact Karin Bibby to register your interest in virtual training as this becomes available.

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