Summer, Teens, and Body Changes: Resources for Difficult Parent/Teen Conversations

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It’s summer, and for many families, that means more time spent together—traveling, playing, or just hanging out at home. While this time can lead to increased bonding, it can also lead to uncharted territory surrounding teen body changes that can leave parents scrambling to find answers.

Here are three of the more common concerns that pop up, and resources to turn to for help.

1. Body odor

Summer gets hot. Kids get stinky. And they might not realize that their changing bodies need additional care after running around all day or attending sports practices.

This can be a tricky subject to broach, as parents don’t want to embarrass their kids, and it’s hard to make 13-year-olds shower. But it’s better that they have this talk sensitively with you instead of having to hear about it in harsher terms from their peers.

So try having a gentle conversation before body odor starts to become an issue. Tell your kids how important it is to wear deodorant, and make sure that you’ve got some ready.

For more information, check out this short video from CNN Parents: What to do When Your Child Stinks.

2. Periods and tampons

Summer also means swimming. Beaches, pools, waterparks—kids are meant to play in the water when it’s hot. But for girls who have recently started their periods, this can be frustrating, especially if they’ve only ever used pads and their periods come at the time of a pool party or a trip to summer camp.

The tampon conversation can be a little awkward, but this video from Always will help. Also make sure there’s a box on hand so that your teen will know what to do when she’s ready.

3. Weight concerns, diet and exercise

For a lot of kids, summer might mean lounging on the couch playing video games, scrolling through social media, and binge-watching TV. Parents have valid concerns about the impact that a lack of physical activity can have on their kids, and want to motivate them to get up and get moving.

This can be a particularly contentious conversation, as kids often feel attacked when parents encourage them to make healthier choices. To avoid shaming the kids, parents should make exercise and healthy eating a family affair. Frame it as a time to play, rather than as forced exercise, and kids will be hooked in no time.

Most importantly, don’t try to employ guilt tactics to get your kids to adopt healthier habits, or express concern about them “getting fat.” Keep it positive. Sign them up for an activity they enjoy, or just ask them to join you on a walk.

For more on how to talk to your kids about their weight, check out the awesome bank of resources for parents at KidsHealth.org.