Puberty is both an exhilarating and a daunting time for youth and their caregivers. Tremendous and rapid changes occur that dramatically transform children's lives, exposing them to new dangers and new opportunities. With thoughtful listening and caring guidance, caregivers can help their children navigate this uncharted territory.
This document has reviewed the physical changes associated with puberty and the usual progression of these changes for boys and for girls. It has also discussed some of the common emotional and social changes youth are likely to go through while their bodies are changing.
We have reviewed ways caregivers can help their children cope with puberty-related change, including suggestions for helping girls cope with menstruation and boys with nocturnal ejaculations or "wet dreams". As well, we have provided suggestions for how parents and caregivers may develop and maintain open and effective communication with their children, and how to support youths' emerging individuality and need for independence. We have emphasized the importance of parents' efforts to provide children with supervision and when necessary, corrective discipline throughout this transformative period.
In the final sections of this document, we have described signs and symptoms which may help parents recognize when children are in trouble and require parental or professional assistance even if they do not ask for it. Topic areas covered include mental illness, drug and alcohol use, and sexual abuse/assault.