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Professional Resources

Puberty

Puberty is 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. 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).
Dive Deeper

In Professional Settings

From 2020 Relationships and Sex Education has 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.

Early Introduction of Topic

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 settings 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;

Emotional regulation

Building resilience

Solihull Approach Training

Completing the free Solihull Training 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.

Practical Support

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

Resources

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