Published June 14, 2007 by
When I was in the fifth grade, the school nurse set aside a special time when she pulled all the girls out of the class. Sequestered in a room without any males (apparently their presence would be detrimental to us females for the next 45 minutes), the school nurse proceeded to show us a video that explained the basics of the female reproductive system. The next week, the boys were given their own video session.
Too bad half the girls already had started their periods and half the guys were able to demonstrate via jokes a working understanding of what guys were supposed to "do" with girls.
First, genetics has some influence over when a child matures. If you're a woman who was a late bloomer, odds are you'll have daughters who are, too. The same goes for men-if your voice didn't drop fully until you were 17, don't be too anxious if your son is still able to sing alto in choir his freshman year in high school.
Secondly, nutrition plays a role in development in that a child's body cannot mature sexually if it doesn't have enough vitamins, minerals, or caloric intake. Girls who don't eat enough for one reason or another, for example, have been shown to start menses later than girls whose diets are nutritionally sound.
All this being said, it's important to point out that every child is different. There is no surefire way to pinpoint when your child will need "the talk." Even so, it's best to play it safe and be early instead of late with information. If your 8 year old can figure out how to reach the highest cabinet in the house when you have your back turned, chances are they'll be able to grasp the puzzle pieces concept with men and women and how that all works, too. Sure, they might be a bit grossed out at first, but I, for one, would much rather have my kid grossed out than freaked out.