Having a son is so special. That bond between mother and son and father and son are different but equally just as strong and special.
When they are babies they rely on you, show affection, and some may argue, are a little less independent than daughters. But as they grow up into the age of adolescence things do change. As they enter those tween years before they become a fully-fledged teenager, there will be changes in many different aspects of their lives.
So what can you expect from your pre-teen boys?
You will start to notice attitude changes, defiance, and independence; puberty in boys, charging hormones and emotions and their uncertainty in how to handle this, just to name a few. However, don’t worry!
While this is a big change in the dynamics of the relationship with your son, it will still be as loving and as strong, as it always has been.
Here we share with you some of the topics that may come up now and over the next few years to prepare you before those embarrassing mother and son conversation arrives. Additionally, we’ve included below some tips for keeping those communication channels open and honest with your tween son.
6 Embarrassing Conversations to Be Ready For With Tween Boys
#1 Their bodies starting to change
One of the most obvious changes is with their bodies. For a young boy, this might be daunting and overwhelming. The main changes a boy may start to notice from the age of 9 are their bodies developing muscles, their voices getting deeper, and growing facial and body hair.
All of these are completely normal tween development changes to be aware of, though some boys may start these physical changes much earlier than others.
It can be hard for your son to notice these changes within their peers and perhaps not experience them himself. Everyone develops at their own rate, and you may find that you are having conversations about these changes, and how to cope with them.
The best way to help your child through these conversations you might have is to not make a fuss about it. Reassurance that changes happen when they happen, and if they are a little concerned about some of the changes, listen and validate their feelings.
Don’t forget you can’t skimp on the facts for girls too. It’s important while discussing their bodily changes, that you touch on the changes girls are going through too. This includes explaining to boys how periods work and treating girls’ changes with respect.
#2 The Discussion on Body Odor and General Hygiene
One of the more embarrassing and sensitive conversations you may have with boys development will be based on general hygiene and body odor.
Once they get to a certain age they start to perspire – especially if they’re a sporty tween boy – and there is a need to change their routine to take care of themselves more so than normal.
It is down to you to discuss the use of deodorant and the importance of washing.
They may also start to notice a change in their skin as well, so discussing skincare might be on the agenda. Here are a few pointers to remember when it comes to hygiene and pre-teen boys:
- Introduce your son to antiperspirant or deodorant.
- Make sure that they take regular showers, paying extra attention to washing their underarms and their groin area.
- Ensure that your son changes their clothing, especially their underwear regularly.
Check out these tween-appropriate health resource websites that may help you and your son with open conversations on puberty and physically growing up
#3 Their Sexuality
Let’s face it, at this age there are going to be conversations about the opposite sex, or for some tween boys, confusion about how they feel if they don’t seem to fit the stereotype. The conversations may be a little more vivid and detailed than perhaps the previous pre-pubescent years “I have a girlfriend” comments when they were younger.
It is important for you to understand that this is a normal part of growing up, and if there is a little confusion as to how they feel, avoid judgment and just listen to what they have to say.
#4 Unwanted Erections
Another embarrassing conversation between a mom and son is the chat about erections. One of the more awkward parts of tween development, that’s for sure. Partly because as a mom, you don’t experience them. It’s the truth!
However, this can be a topic that is hugely embarrassing for your son, so if they do approach you with this dilemma it is important to not react and just listen to what they have to say. Explain to them that this is a normal part of growing up, and just shows that their body is working as it should be.
The hormonal change often means that they will have desires they won’t have had before, so the best thing to do is not show any disapproval. Instead, explain what the changes mean and educate your son.
This could be a great opportunity to teach them some independence in how to use the washing machine, too. At the very least, how to strip their own bed sheets should they feel the need, without an awkward conversation or discovery.
#5 How They Think and Their Views on Life
You may notice that their views and how they think change when reaching the age of adolescence. They will take opinions and information from everyone around them, including you as parents. Through the first eight or so years of their lives, your boys will have been self-absorbed. Only caring about their own feelings, which is completely normal.
However, as they develop this way of thinking changes, and they become aware of the thoughts and feelings of others. Which may start conversations about fitting in or being left out.
Your son may feel embarrassed to talk to you about these feelings, so be mindful that “give mommy a hug and tell me what’s wrong” may no longer be a fix-all solution.
#6 Social hierarchy and friends
Just as their thoughts and feelings change and they become aware of others, they also become conscious of social hierarchy and friends. As different groups of friends form they will need to try and figure out where they fit amongst it all.
This can be very evident in school, particularly as they move from primary or elementary school into middle school or secondary school. You may also find their relationship changing within the family too as once cooperative siblings vie for their position in the family.
Their can also be a lot of pressure on boys to not cry; crying is for babies, or for “girls” and they can feel embarrassed to show their emotions. Your boys will need coping mechanisms for different social situations they may find themselves in.
Top Tips to Keep Conversations Open with Your Tween Son
So how do you ensure you keep the conversations open between you and your tween boy?
Bearing in mind that some of these topics are not only hard for your son to discuss but also for you to listen and respond to. So here are a few tips to help you out:
One of the first things you must be as a parent is approachable. Often the changes your son will start to notice and experience will be overwhelming for them, and they may feel at some point that it isn’t normal. Of course, we know, that it is all a completely normal part of growing up.
So if you are approachable then they won’t be afraid to talk to you about these things. The truth is, no matter what it is, you will always want them to feel comfortable talking to you about anything that’s troubling them.
This may involve making opportunities in your week where you’re not overly distracted with work, household chores or dealing siblings. Is there a set time of week you can be alone together or where there will be a relaxed atmosphere?
Watch your reactions
I know it can be difficult when it comes to an instant reaction to something that you hear but try and stay in control as much as you can. Your child will pick up on your reaction, whether verbal or not, so be mindful about how you approach the conversation.
Be open-minded with this adolescent behavior, take a moment to breathe yourself, and even return to the conversation if you feel you need time to comprehend how you do react.
Body language and facial expressions are just as important
Your children will pick up on body language and facial expressions as well as anything you verbally say to them, so just as much as you are aware of your reaction, try and ensure that your body language and facial expressions don’t give the wrong impression.
We have all been there, and sometimes we can’t help but react, but if you do so, reassure your son that it comes from a place of love and concern for them.
The most important tool in your parenting toolbox, listening. It can also be one of the hardest things to do, granted. However, if you are having a conversation with your son about anything to do with adolescence for boys, yet alone some of the things we have mentioned, always listen to them. It helps them to feel valued.
Validate their feelings
While listening it is also a good idea to validate their feelings. Sure you may think it is an overreaction or they are being silly but to them, it really is a big deal. So validate how they feel and come from a place of understanding. They will thank you for it.
Finally, trust what they are saying and have trust and faith in them. If you give them a level of trust they give that back to you. Ensuring that you can then feel confident that they will come to you when they need you the most, no matter what they have to say or what embarrassing situation they have found themselves in.
We hope this helps you feel more comfortable when it comes to embarrassing conversations with your son. Let us know in the comments below if there are any other approaches that you use to make those awkward moments more manageable during those precious tween years.
Experiencing intolerable tween rebellion? You may also want to check out our positive discipline for tweens’ advice