Late Elementary marks the homestretch before the onset of puberty. As such, this time is an important time to truly foster and nurture your child’s heart. This means continuing to open up and listen to your child. It also requires preparing your child for the physical and emotional changes that are about to occur.
On a practical level, it would be wise for mothers to connect with their daughters and share about the adolescent changes ahead. Some girls begin menstruation as young as 9, but the average age is 12.5. To help this transition, it would be beneficial to share what your personal experience was like if you can remember 🙂 and simply give them some practical examples of what to be aware of. Keep this talk lighthearted by taking your daughter on a weekend trip to eat out, shop, laugh, have fun, and connect. Establishing connection needs to be the primary goal of the weekend. Your young daughters need and want both your time and support. This is especially true for females, because they are wired more emotionally and will need emotional support as things begin to change. When this is intentionally developed at a young age, it is easier for this connection to transfer over into the teen years.
Cayley currently is 12.5 and since I’ve been preparing these posts, she and I have had many discussions to prepare her for her first menstrual period. She has had several good questions which needed to be answered to dispel fear and confusion. My older daughters had a 9 month crash course as I taught about sex in the context of my pregnancy with Cayley when they were 9.5 and 12. Being in the delivery room for the birth of Cayley was memorable for them. I have always been open and honest with questions they had but wish I had done more.
Another idea, and one I’ve prepared for my daughter, is a “coming of age” basket. Today you can order these on-line but it was super fun making the one pictured. You might include a journal, sanitary napkins, chocolate, encouraging books, candle, and your favorite movie when you were her age. You could also write a little card letting her know that you support her during this transition. I can almost guarantee that she won’t forget this unusual, but useful and thoughtful gift. At the right time, your daughter will have everything she needs to have a more enjoyable first period. Recently, Cayley and I came across the idea of having a “Menarche Party” where you decorate with red streamers, balloons, tablecloths, etc. and serve red punch, cake and strawberries. Hilarious, I know, memorable to say the least. Whatever you do, keep it fun.
While girls may need a fun weekend with their mom, young boys need their father to assure them that wet dreams, hair growth, and voice changes are a natural part of the transition. Fathers can prepare their sons by spending a weekend away doing fun activities such as camping, fishing, or hiking. The important part is that the Father is connecting with their son and communicating what to expect. Late Elementary is a good time to start discussing these changes, because hormones begin to move men towards manhood around the ages of 10-13.
In addition to preparing your children for the changes ahead, it is important to continue dialoguing with them about their media intake. Teach them how to be mindful about the things that they choose to see and listen to and encourage them to make wise choices. While it might not be as fun for you as the parent, it is important to set an example for your children by the movies that you choose to watch as a family and the music you listen to. The media has a powerful influence on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. This continues to be true, especially during adolescence when new emotions enter the scene.
While it might not be wise to share every detail with your younger elementary aged children, it is helpful to at least prepare them for the changes that are about to occur and let them know that you are there to support them. Chances are, if your child does not begin to experience these changes early, one of their friends will. In order to relay accurate information and be transparent with your child, it would benefit you to have at least started to address some of these things with them so that they are prepared.
Recommended Resources for ages 8-11
- How You are Changing
- God’s Design for Sex Book 3 What’s the Big Deal Why God Cares About Sex
- Secret Keeper
- Growing Little Women (mom and daughter study)
- Beautiful Girlhood
- The Camp Gyno (commercial worth watching with your daughter)
- Boyhood and Beyond
- What’s Happening To Me
- They Boys Body Book
- A Boy After God’s Heart
- A Girl After God’s Heart
- Bibliography of Books on Sexuality for Children and Parents I found this comprehensive resource list during my research. Some books I am familiar with, many I uncertain of their theology and philosophy.