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My son is 9 and a bit innocent and sheltered, I was not looking forward to the talk, the questions, the smells.. . I wasn't yet ready for letting go of the sweet little little baby that I brought home, or that precocious toddler who loved to climb into my lap for naps, or even the handsome little boy headed out for his first day of school. But, as hard as it is, kids are developing and growing sooner than ever and it's a necessary part of being a parent. I was desperately searching for a way to open up the conversation in a gentle way.. I found it..
How to Talk About Puberty With Boys
Luckily, this new resource from American Girl, YES, the same people responsible for the book for girls: The Care and Keeping of You have written one just for boys-Guy Stuff: The Body Book For Boys. It is totally for boys, the illustrations are appealing to boys, the language is easy to follow, and it covers a lot of topics. It really helps to know how to talk about puberty with boys.
One thing that concerned me especially, was the fact that my son has aspergers and several other comorbidities that go along with it. I want him to be informed but how much can he really handle? Luckily, I was able to get a few questions to Dr. Cara Natterson the author and here is what she had to say…
ME: At what age do you feel it is appropriate to give boys this book?
Dr. Natterson: The book is written for boys as young as 7 or 8, but different sections will be more interesting or relevant at different ages. So as the book has launched, I have gotten feedback from younger boys who love it and from older (13- and 14-year old boys) who love it too, just for different reasons. It doesn’t have to be a cover-to-cover read, so boys (and their parents) can skip around to chapters that interest them in the moment.
What is the best way to approach talking and sharing the book with kids who might be a bit more emotionally immature.
Dr. Natterson: Guy Stuff, like it’s girl counterpart The Care and Keeping of You, is meant to be a conversation starter. This means that the goal is for parents and kids to use the information in the book as a springboard for discussions about a wide variety of topics. Parents know their kids: they generally recognize what their boys are ready to digest. The beauty of this book is that it starts simple, with basic hygiene (hand washing, tooth brushing, and so on), so even the most emotionally immature boys can begin to learn about their bodies. Take it slow and gage the content based upon your own child – like everything else we do in parenting, meet your son where he is and he will be open to the conversation.
ME: Do you have any suggestions for discussing puberty and the other issues addressed in the book when a child has special needs, particularly aspergers or other milder forms of autism.
Dr. Natterson: I would reiterate the advice above and meet him where he is. All boys are relieved to know what’s to be expected during puberty – armed with information, they are prepared rather than afraid. But some need the information doled out more slowly. This is true for girls as well. Whether or not a child has special needs, he benefits from anticipating what will happen to his body as he gets older. And, whether or not he has special needs, parents ought to pace this information in a way that helps him rather than overwhelms him.
The book covers really simple topics like good habits, hair care, braces, acne, nutrition, eyes, etc.. Then it goes into deeper topics like mood, voice changes, underwear, pubic area, and more. I gave the book to my son who is an avid reader, giving him a quick talk about what it entailed and asked him to come to me with any questions. Most of the book is things we have already covered in day to day life, honestly, some parts of the book made me squirm and I was really uncomfortable with them. However, they are all parts of life and growing up and Dr. Natterson did a wonderful job covering them