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Hormones, Puberty and Sexuality

As your child gets older their body will start to go through changes known as puberty. Puberty usually occurs between the ages of 8-14 and can last for up to 4 years (NHS, 2021). Girls will often start to show signs of puberty at a slightly younger age than boys and complete this stage earlier, but not always. More information about the stages of puberty and what to expect can be found in the link at the bottom of this page.

During puberty it is particularly important to maintain good personal hygiene and for your growing child to keep themselves clean. They will start to produce more sweat which can lead to body odour and increased oil in the scalp and skin which can lead to greasy hair and spots. Conversations about things like menstruation (periods) and wet dreams will help prepare children for what to expect and make sure they know how to manage this.

Your child might start to experience different emotions and feelings during this stage of their development due to the effect of hormones and their reaction to the changes they are experiencing. You might notice increased moodiness, changes in self-confidence or altered emotional health. Your child might also begin to be self-conscious or embarrassed about their body, the way they look or how they think others see them. Allow your child to talk about these thoughts and give reassurance but acknowledge their feelings.

Your child might also become more interested in relationships with others, sex and gender identity. Try to keep an open mind and answer your child’s questions as they arise, reassure your child that this is a normal part of their development.

Your child will receive Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) throughout secondary school and this will include information about healthy relationships, puberty, sex and contraception, consent, safety and the law. More information about what is covered during RSE can be found here.

What you can do to help

  • Remind your child about personal hygiene and ensure they have access to any products that they need to maintain this (washing equipment, menstrual products, deodorant, shaving kit or skin care). If you are finding it difficult to pay for these extra items you can seek help here - thehygienebank or you can check whether you are entitled to financial help here at
  • Encourage your child to keep their bedroom clean and tidy, help them to launder clothes and bedding regularly.
  • Allow your child space to be alone and be respectful of their right to privacy.
  • Expect to see a range of emotions in your child and anticipate some different behaviours, be clear about what is acceptable, but allow them to be open and honest about their feelings.
  • Set clear boundaries around expectations and respect within your family relationships.
  • If your child talks to you about sexuality or gender identity allow them to express their thoughts and try to be non-judgemental in your response, extra guidance on this can be found below:

For further advice about emotional wellbeing, visit our section here.

Who can help?

For more advice about hormones, puberty and sexuality speak to one of our team. You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation. **Monday to Friday 9.30am - 4.30pm excluding bank holidays**

Older children (aged 11019) can ask advice from a school nurse by texting our confidential ChatHealth service on 07480 635 443.

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Delivering excellence in Children and Young People’s Services:
a partnership between Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust and
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
Funded by Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council

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