Puberty & Growing Up

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Using a time line to explain growing up

Published 14 May 2019, updated 8 July 2020

Puberty has been on the radar recently on the advice line and I felt it may be helpful to share a resource I find useful.

As soon as we mention the teenage years and puberty, panic sets in for all parents. Yes, the hormones are racing around your child’s body and there are mood swings to say the least but, often parent’s initial thoughts race far ahead to relationship issues and sex education. Although these are important issues, much of the initial anxiety young people are having is coping with the change in their bodies. What I wanted to share with you is a resource that I have found very useful to support a young person’s understanding in coping with this change, and to reassure them that it is not only them who gets spots, has hair sprouting everywhere and has a changing body shape.

Using a photo time line is a very effective and good activity that family members can join in with. In fact, this works better if started pre-puberty as well as talking about taking responsibility for their own body, personal hygiene and privacy issues.

Example 'Growing Up' Photo Timeline

Using photos from baby up to present day for your child makes them see how they have grown; then comparing them with photos of yourselves helps them understand how they will change and develop. Remember to include plenty from the teenage years with those embarrassing haircuts, spotty skin, bad fashion sense etc. Using a pre-printed template is fine, however what has worked very well (sorry if a little time consuming) is having a line with photos pegged on a string, with one for your child and one for each family member who is participating.

From this activity you can then in time move on to talking about puberty to cover issues such as public and private behaviour, keeping safe, feelings, menstruation, masturbation and looking ahead to relationships. Our information paper ‘Puberty and those with a Learning Disability’ is a good reference point. I am happy to email/post a copy to you.