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.
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.
For ages 3-7, it's about helping children to understand what a good friend is and how to be one, about different types of families, what the differences are between boys and girls, and what the private parts of the body are, helping them to keep safe.
For ages 8-11 it's building on the information above and developing further knowledge about the physical and emotional changes that take place, alongside learning the reasons for the changes in more detail. This includes developing an understanding of how people are able to reproduce - if they want to - when they’re adults.
The following information and resources are designed to support you in helping your child at each stage, to become more aware of themselves and others, to help them 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 3-7 year-olds, covering relationships, reproduction & families
- Mummy Laid an Egg by B Cole
- Mummy Laid an Egg by B Cole (Inclusive film version on YouTube using symbols)
- Amazing You by Dr G Saltz
- Where Willy Went by N Allan
- Let’s Talk About Where Babies Come From by R H Harris
- What Makes a Baby by C Silverberg
- If I had a 100 Mummies by V Carter
- Mummy Never Told Me by B Cole
- And Tango Makes Three by J Richardson and P Parnell
- So Much by T Cooke
- Where Did That Baby Come From by D Gliori
- Topsy and Tim and the New Baby by J and G Adamson
- My Underpants Rule by Rod Power and Kate Power
- My family, your family by Laura Henry- Allain
Suggested reading list for 8-11 year-olds, covering reproduction/puberty/relationships/gender
- 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
- The Boys' Guide to Growing Up: Choices and Changes During Puberty by Terri Couwenhoven
- The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up: Choices and Changes in the Tween years by Terri Couwenhoven
- Alien Nation by The Proud Trust
- 'Grown' The Black Girls Guide to Glowing Up by Melissa Cummings-Quarry & Natalie A Carter
- The Autism-Friendly Guide to Periods by Robyn Steward
- What's Happening to Tom? A book about puberty for boys and young men with autism and related conditions (Sexuality and Safety with Tom and Ellie) by Kate E. Reynolds and Jonathon Powell
- What’s Happening to Ellie? A book about puberty for girls and young women with autism and related conditions (Sexuality and Safety with Tom and Ellie) by Kate E. Reynolds and Jonathon Powell
- The Growing Up Guide for Girls – What Girls on the Autism Spectrum Need to Know! by Davida Hartman
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)
Can I have babies too? Sexuality and Relationships Education for Children from Infancy up to Age 11 by Sanderijn van der Doef, Clare Bennett, and Arris Lueks
Useful websites for children (we recommend you watch them first so you are prepared for any questions)
Amaze.org- Puberty section (Age 9+)
Operation Ouch! How are babies made? (age 9-12)
Operation Ouch! Puberty (age 8-14)
Useful websites for parents
'That Parent Group' Facebook group for parents This is a group where you can ask those sex-ed related questions and see how other parents handle it. You will find parents from all over the world, which means you will come across a wide range of values and beliefs, and religions (as well as no religion).
Suggested RSE Activities in the home:
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.
Watch the telly or a programme you enjoy on Netflix together. Every time you hear a sexist remark, a stereotype, or an unhealthy attitude -call it out! And use it as an opportunity to discuss RSE-related matters, asking your child what they think.