Talking Puberty with Teenagers #TeenTalk

Who remembers having ‘The Talk’ with their Mum or Dad when they were younger?  Learning about periods and hair removal, personal hygiene and skincare for those outbreaks.  I remember being an incredibly embarrassed teenager, how could my Mum know anything about what I was going through!?  Of course, she had been through everything I was experiencing when she was my age too, but like most teens I had pinned my young parents as ‘old’ and there wasn’t a chance on this planet they were going to understand.

I started to go through these huge changes, puberty, when I hit 13 years old.  That’s only 15 years ago (oh my god, I’m old) and things have changed so much in that time.  We’ve become a world dominated by social media, technology and have an endless supply of information online available at the touch of a button.  Our children are living in a new generation, but I believe it’s important that parents continue to create that open channel of discussion with these awkward, yet natural and normal, subjects and don’t rely on their children’s curiosity to look for answers online.  Thankfully, O and Q are still quite young so I’ve plenty of time to prepare myself for discussing puberty with teenagers!

Celebrity mum Nadia Sawalha and her teenage daughter Maddie, have joined forces with Boots and trusted brands including Always, Gillette, Tampax and Venus as well as Boots Tea tree and Witch Hazel to reach out to parents across the UK with the tools and tips they need to have the all-important ‘teen conversation’.

Most adults have a memory of their own ‘talk’ with their parents and according to the new #TeenTalk research from Boots and P&G, this conversation can still be as difficult and uncomfortable as ever. The research reveals:

  • – 1 in 5 parents are unsure about how to start the puberty conversation
  • – So much so that a quarter avoid the #TeenTalk completely
  • – Parents even revealed the #Teentalk was more uncomfortable than breaking up with someone (10%), doing a presentation at work (17%), or asking someone out on a date (10%)

#TeenTalk ambassador and mum of two, Nadia Sawalha, explains, “As a mum, I understand all too well the challenges of communicating with teens. They suddenly go from wanting to tell mum everything, to one word answers! And you can’t solve things with a quick cuddle or a sweet treat. First shaves, first periods and new personal hygiene and skincare regimes are all unfamiliar experiences for teens and can be difficult topics for parents to approach.”

Campaign expert and teenologist Sarah Newton says, “The ‘#teentalk’ can be awkward because parents and children probably haven’t had a conversation that’s this important yet and we put lots and lots of pressure on ourselves to get it right!”

The teen’s take on the talk

While parents may recognise the awkwardness of the talk, 76% still want their teen to see them as the first port of call for help and advice. It’s reassuring then that 49% of teens said they were happiest speaking to mum, proving that mum is the go-to person for #TeenTalk. However, a digital and social media savvy 53% of teens are turning to other less awkward channels to find information. With 6% of shy teenagers also said Text and Whatsapp makes it easier to talk through awkward topics.

It’s difficult”, explains Nadia, “as we are the first generation of mums to be going through this conversation with a child so connected to social media. There’s no rule book to follow or mums and grandmothers to ask for advice. Just like our teens, we’re figuring it all out as we go. It’s another of those firsts!”

It’s no surprise all this information at their fingertips that teens of today seem increasingly confident about ‘#TeenTalk’.

  • Over a third of teens are comfortable talking about personal care (body odour and skin)
  • Almost a quarter are comfortable talking about the changes that their body will face during puberty
  • 18% of teens find it easy to talk about menstruation

Despite this a third of teens still don’t feel very confident about having #TeenTalk. Maddie, 13, explains “I know that talking to mum might not always seem like the easiest thing to do, especially about topics like puberty! Sometimes you don’t feel like talking and sometimes you have lots of questions but might feel a bit embarrassed.  But remember, they’ve been through it too and they know everything you’re experiencing is completely natural, so just keep talking.”

How to have the talk

Clearly, there is no right or wrong way to help prepare your child for puberty but 40% of parents believe that the best way to start the conversation is to have a one-on-one chat with their teen, and 18% suggest that the best way is over a cup of tea on the sofa.

Asked what’ their one tip for helping other parents have the #TeenTalk, the resounding response was “be honest and open”.

Sarah Newton agrees, “It’s about giving them the facts. Being honest but not overwhelming them with information. They will come back and ask more questions when they are ready. Don’t forget that the #TeenTalk isn’t one single chat, but an ongoing conversation about empowerment and choice and what better conversation is there to have?”

Preparation is key!

More than half of parents surveyed said having trusted information at hand would make the approach to #TeenTalk much easier. That’s why, from 11th May to 30th May inclusive, advice from Nadia, Maddie and Sarah will be available exclusively at Boots stores in a free #TeenTalk guide.

The Teenage Brain

The guide gives parents the 101 on topics like the ‘teenage brain’ and teen behaviours filling them in on what they can expect as they approach ‘the chat’. The guide includes helpful tips on grooming, personal care and body changes, backed up by Nadia and Maddie’s own experiences and aims to help get parents and teens talking and, more importantly, keep the conversation going!

Not only that, but seeing as 22% of parents have admitted to being unsure about what products to recommend to their teenagers going through puberty, Boots is offering savings on trusted brands including Always, Tampax, Gillette, Venus and Boots  Tea Tree & Witch Hazel products.

Celine Hernández, Brand Manager P&G UK and Ireland, said, “We are delighted to be joining forces with Boots to help parents and teens navigate the puberty conversation. We are proud to be able to use our brands to support parents and their teenagers as they embrace the new personal care regimes that come at this time of their lives.”

Kristy McCready from Boots agrees, “It’s with great excitement that we’re taking part in the #TeenTalk campaign with P&G. Together Nadia and her daughter Maddie, alongside expert knowledge from Sarah Newton, sum up perfectly in the #TeenTalk guide, the challenges that parents and families meet as their child develops into a teenager. We encourage parents and teens to pick up a copy of the #TeenTalk guide as part of our commitment to helping mums to help their teens feel good.”

For videos of Nadia and Maddie talking about how they approach #TeenTalk at home, more tips and advice from specialist youth expert, Sarah Newton and product information go to

*collaborative post