Having the Sex Talk: Is Your Tween Too Sexy Too Soon?
How to have the sex talk with your tween, plus how to handle 5 dilemmas on kids' sexuality
Relax, It's Normal!
By Jennifer Kelly Geddes
Asking about sex, experimenting with makeup, repeating a risqué phrase they hear at school—you can expect all these things. Here are a few more activities and behaviors you can chalk up to kids just being kids.
- 6 to 8 Years Old: Dressing up like grown-ups (instead of princesses or cowboys); playacting, such as pretending to go out to a club or mimicking other things seen on television.
- 8 to 10 Years Old: Taking the clothes off dolls; having dolls or action figures kiss each other (such as pretending that Barbie is smooching Ken or Spider-Man); using dolls or action figures to imitate romantic scenes from TV or movies.
- 10 to 12 Years Old: Looking at gossip magazines; cutting out photos of singers, actors, or other celebrities; hand-holding with first boyfriends or girlfriends.
Girls Are Entering Puberty Earlier
By Beth Weinhouse
American girls are beginning puberty at earlier ages than previously noted—some between the ages of 7 and 9. There are various factors contributing to the shift, but there are also steps we can take to keep our daughters healthy no matter when they enter puberty.
Make sure your child has regular checkups so that any problem is detected early. In some cases, starting puberty prematurely may be a sign of an underlying illness or hormonal problem. Be sure your children see their doctor regularly so their growth and development can be monitored.
Help your daughter maintain a healthy weight by encouraging nutritious food choices and regular exercise. “It does appear that the change [girls' entering puberty younger] is driven in part by higher body mass index, or BMI,” says Frank Biro, M.D., director of the division of adoescent medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Body fat is linked to increased hormone levels.
Minimize exposure to the hormone-disrupting chemicals found in many plastics. More studies are being done about this potential cause of early puberty, but right now experts believe it's prudent to minimize your family's exposure to the phthalates common in so many plastics.
What about boys? Boys tend to enter puberty later than girls, and their age of puberty onset doesn't seem to be changing.