Ep 30: Puberty and Body Changes
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Suanne Kowal Connelly, author of Parenting Through Puberty, reveals when to start talking about puberty, how to start the conversation, and the important topics to discuss. Suanne also explains how to use techniques from Motivational Interviewing to improve your effectiveness during these talks.
Full Show Notes
One of the most dreaded, feared, and awkward talks that parents need to have with their teens is the “puberty talk.” How do you discuss teens’ changing bodies and minds with them and prepare them for adult challenges like sexual relationships and drug and alcohol pressures? When is it time to even start talking about puberty and sex?
This week we brought Dr. Suanne Kowal Connelly on the podcast to reveal her secrets. She’s the author of Parenting Through Puberty: Mood Swings, Acne, and Growing Pains, and honed her skills in this area during 25+ years as a pediatrician.
As a doctor who works with teens, Suanne is often in the position of having just 5 or 10 minutes alone with a teenage or pre-teen patient. In that short time, she has to deliver critical information about how their body is changing, get them to talk to her candidly about their drug and alcohol use, and give them some advice they will actually follow.
How does she possibly accomplish all of this?
Suanne has developed a set of powerful strategies based on Motivational Interviewing for having these discussions with teens. And because she sees so many teenagers every day, she has been able to practice and refine these techniques over and over again until they work perfectly every time.
In this episode she gets into her methods, revealing additional specifics and strategies not found in the book.
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Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen
1. When you notice your teen’s shoe size start to change rapidly, ask permission to talk about puberty:
“I’ve noticed you’ve started to change. Your body has started to change. I think you’re starting to go into puberty. I’m not sure but from what I know your foot size is bigger and what I’d like to know is if you’d like to have a conversation with me about the changes that are happening and are coming for your body. Because there some things I think we could talk about. Would you like to?”
-Suanne Kowal Connelly
2. When your teen tells you they are making good decisions around alcohol and drugs, affirm them but don’t go too far:
3. When your teenager asks to go to the mall for the first time:
4. After your teenager is influenced by friends into deviant behavior:
5. After your teenager opens up to you:
6. When you have to discipline your teen:
About Suanne Kowal Connelly
Dr. Suanne Kowal-Connelly, MD, F.A.A.P, is a board-certified pediatrician who spent the first nearly thirty years of practicing in a group private practice serving children and their families. With a strong interest in community medicine she has served as the district physician for several school districts on Long Island for over 25 years. She is a New York State trainer for Child Abuse and Neglect, instructing personnel on an exhaustive list of topics.
Changing times in the medical field made joining a health system a logical step, and in 2014 Dr. Kowal-Connelly and her practice became a part of the Long Island Federally Qualified Health Centers, (LIFQHC) where she also serves as the Director of Pediatric Clinical Quality.
She has always been an active individual and in 2006 she began training and competing in the sport of Triathlon. Her successes as an Age Group Athlete compelled her to achieve certification as a Level I USA triathlon coach as well as certification as a Youth and Junior coach. With this added expertise, Dr. Kowal-Connelly has embraced both the field of medicine and the athletic world of multisport to foster a philosophy that helps families and individuals develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
With a heartfelt sense of responsibility to contribute to challenging medical issues like obesity, Dr. Kowal-Connelly has created Health Powered By You, an innovative program bridging years of medical expertise, athletic expertise, nutritional education and psychological support.
As the author of Parenting Through Puberty: Mood Swings, Acne, and Growing Pains, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Kowal-Connelly explains the physical and emotional changes families can expect to see in their children. She covers the nitty-gritty of children’s changing bodies and, critically addresses the emotional toll puberty can take, covering issues of moodiness, body image, and self-esteem. She also includes ways to encourage a healthy active lifestyle in these crucial years with tips on exercise and nutrition.
Her services as a coach, speaker, and pediatrician can assist organizations, individuals, and families by guiding them with best-practice solutions for a healthier existence hopefully without the need of medicinal support.