A lot of things change when your child goes through puberty, and you may sometimes find that you need some extra support to help you, your child and your family through this transition period. This is OK.
Whether you are looking for some support in starting the journey, are needing some more individualised strategies or have concerns about whether some changes are normal or not, it’s important to remember that help is available and you don’t need to go it alone.
You may also have concerns about things that your child is doing. These can include behaviours that:
- continue persistently (e.g. masturbation in public places)
- are compulsive (e.g. obsessive seeking of pornography)
- put your child or others at risk (e.g. self-harm or forced touching of others’ private body parts)
- involve force, bribery, threats, coercion or manipulation (e.g. using bribery to touch another child’s private body parts)
While these behaviours can be stressful for parents to manage, there may be a number of reasons why these behaviours are happening that aren’t sexual in nature. These include:
- lack of understanding of social rules
- stress or anxiety
- underlying medical issue
- witnessing the behaviour in other people and copying it (e.g in pornography)
- past or current experiences of abuse
It’s also important to remember that some behaviours involving private body parts are developmentally appropriate or normal for children of a certain age.
You can use the following resources to see whether some behaviours are developmentally appropriate or whether they might require more professional support:
- Traffic lights app: Download at App Store – Download at Google Play
Where to go for help
If you have any concerns, your child’s usual GP is a good person to talk to. If your child already sees other specialists, such as a psychologist, behaviour support practitioner or occupational therapist, they may be able to assist as well.