Helping your children understand changes at puberty

Children following the SCARF programme will already have a good understanding of their bodies, and how and why they change as they go through puberty.

For this age group it's often about building on that information and developing further knowledge about the emotional changes that take place. This should take place alongside learning the reasons for the changes in more detail, including developing an understanding of how people are able to reproduce - if they want to - when they’re adults.

Parents are recognised as children's primary educators for Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), yet many feel unprepared. Often this is because they had poor RSE themselves - from home, school, or both.

The following information and resources are designed to support you in helping your child navigate the emotional and physical changes that take place during puberty, as well as learning about sex in the context of safe, loving relationships.

Suggested reading list for 8-11 year-olds, covering reproduction/puberty/relationships

  • Girls Only by V Parker
  • How your Body Works by Judy Hindley
  • Let’s Talk About Sex by R H Harris
  • Living with a Willy by N Fisher
  • Sex is a Funny Word by C Silverberg and F Smyth 
  • The Period Book by K Gravelle
  • The Puberty Book by W Darvill
  • What’s Happening to Me? by P Mayle

National Literacy Trust list of books about love

Useful books for parents

Questions Children Ask and How to Answer Them by Dr M Stoppard

Speakeasy: Talking with your Children about Growing Up by fpa (Family Planning Association)

Useful websites for children Puberty section (Age 9+) 

BBC Teach –The Big Talk (age 9-12) 

Kids' Health - Menstruation

Male puberty - including wet dreams 

NHS - stages of puberty

Outspoken - RSE worksheets 

Useful websites for parents

Family Lives 



Sex positive families 

Sitting in car YouTube Channel: how to talk comfortably with your kids about sex and consent  

Talking to your child about online sexual harassment- a guide for parents

Other suggested RSE Activities:

Draw around bodies

Draw around bodies and label parts, using correct words (and family names) and their purpose

What's in the bag? Puberty

Put together your own ‘puberty bag’ from household items. Discuss each one and why it’s used, e.g. deodorant, razors, tampons/pads, shower gel, washing powder, tissues, hair gel.

What's in the bag? Growing up

Same as above for contents of handbag; items support discussions about growing up

Anonymous questions box

Have an old shoe box, or similar, where children could post questions that they might not be able to ask you verbally.

Praise and thank them for their questions.  Try to answer them using the webpages above to help provide age-appropriate, fact-based answers. 

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