A Kids Book About: The Podcast

Heather Talks About Puberty

Episode Summary

Dr. Heather Chow, author of A Kids Book About Puberty, talks about how every person experiences these changes in their own way, and the more we talk about them, the less scary they seem.

Episode Notes

Dr. Heather Chow, author of A Kids Book About Puberty, talks about how every person experiences these changes in their own way, and the more we talk about them, the less scary they seem.

A Kids Book About Puberty (view book)

Full Book Description:

OK, let’s say this word together: puberty. That wasn’t so bad, right? Puberty is a completely normal part of growing up, but it can feel really weird to talk about—for grownups and kids. Every person experiences these changes in their own way, and the more we talk about them, the less scary they seem.

About the Author:

Dr. Heather Chow (she/her) is living her kindergarten dream as a pediatrician. She loves building trusting relationships with her patients and their parents in order to help them navigate the physical and emotional complexities of growing up, especially when it comes to issues that often seem difficult to talk about.

Episode Transcription

A Kids Book About: The Podcast

Heather Talks About Puberty



Matthew: What is puberty?

Charlie: It's your body changing.

Reagan: Puberty is when your body is going through hormonal changes and it results in mood swings and physical changes.

Heather: Puberty is a very special time. It's when your body gets ready to become an adult.

So during puberty, a lot of changes happen. Some changes are pretty easy to see and are very noticeable because they happen more on the outside. That's kind of like growing body hair, breasts getting bigger, penises growing longer. These changes are, like I said, noticeable, but some other changes kind of happen more on the inside and you can't really see them as easily. Sometimes you might, say, feel more emotional or frustrated, excited, or even confused. These feelings are all parts of puberty too. 

Matthew: Welcome to A Kids Book About: The Podcast!  I’m Matthew. I’m a teacher, a librarian, and I’m your host. 

The voices you heard just a moment ago were from Charlie, Reagan, and Heather. 

Each week we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series. 

Heather: Hi, my name is Dr. Heather Chow. I'm a pediatrician by day, but when the stethoscope comes off and I'm at home, I am a wife to my inspiring husband, Ryan, and a mom to our two playful dogs, Kuma and Umbra. And of course our very curious and silly. Baby Girl Penny.

And I am grateful to also be the author of A Kids Book About Puberty. 



Matthew: Hello, listeners! Let’s talk about puberty! Perhaps you can sense the excitement in my voice. No one really talked to me about puberty when I was growing up. That might be true for your grownups, too. Or for some of your friends. 

But we’re here today. And we’re going to make sure you don’t leave today’s episode without having lots of your questions answered. Heather is the perfect person to walk us through this topic. 

Let’s start first with when puberty typically happens, in case it’s something you’ve been thinking about or anticipating.

Heather: For kids with a vagina, puberty typically starts a little bit earlier, um, around 8 to 13 years old. But for kids with a penis, puberty doesn't happen much later after that. It usually begins around, like, 9 to 14 years old. 

But I kind of sometimes say that some kids don't really read the textbook, so sometimes it may be normal to start puberty a little bit earlier or a little bit later outside of those ranges. But if they kind of fall outside of this age range your pediatrician may do some testing to see if there's a reason just to kind of make sure everything's okay.

Matthew: Your pediatrician is also going to be a really terrific resource on this topic, of course. If there are questions that your grownup doesn’t know how to answer, or ones that are not answered here, be sure to write them down somewhere you won’t forget so that you can ask them at your next pediatric appointment. 

Puberty happens at different times for different kids, and doesn’t look exactly the same from kid to kid. Heather also taught me that there are even rare cases where some kids do not experience puberty.

Heather: I would say almost everyone goes through puberty. There are some pretty uncommon medical conditions that make it so that kids don't go through puberty or kind of have a more altered, um, puberty compared to other kids.

Just like everybody's different, every body is different, too. 

If you have any questions about anything that you're experiencing, ask your grown ups. And all of your pediatricians. We're here to answer any questions that might, you might have as well. 

Matthew: Again, if you or your grownup have concerns, contact your pediatrician. 

There are common experiences in puberty. You may have learned about some of these in a health unit at school.

Heather: Some parts of puberty can be the same for kids with a vagina and for kids with a penis. For example, they may experience getting pimples, armpit hair, smelling kind of stinky, and going through a growth spurt. 

But there are also some pretty big differences too. So, kids with a vagina have menstrual periods, whereas kids with a penis can have erections and what we call wet dreams, and those can also be known as nocturnal or nighttime emissions.

Matthew: Puberty may have already started for you. Maybe it’s still a few years off. Or maybe it’s waiting in the wings. 

But how long does puberty actually last?

Heather: Puberty can be pretty different for different people. And it can last for several years. Like I mentioned earlier, it can start around anywhere from like eight to 14 years old, but it can last until like sometimes the late teens or even the early twenties. But remember that everybody's journey through puberty is different and it's totally normal for it to take some time. 

Matthew: Let’s take a quick break. And when we return, Heather will answer a question submitted by a listener. And she’ll share why she feels puberty is something everyone should be talking about. No shame. 

Heather: Puberty I think is often talked about in a pretty awkward or uncomfortable way because it involves things that kind of can feel pretty private or sensitive to talk about. And it can be embarrassing. Sometimes people might feel pretty embarrassed to talk about puberty because it's all so new. 

You might feel shy about the changes that you're experiencing in your body or confused about all the new feelings that you're going through. But you know what? That's totally okay. It's totally normal to feel that way. 

The most important thing to remember here is that you're not alone. A lot of people go through puberty and it's a normal part of growing up. 

So, you know, even if it's embarrassing, I tell all of my kids that it's okay to talk about puberty. It's really important to ask questions and talk to the grownups that you trust about, like what's happening with your body.

Matthew: We’ll be back in just a moment.



Matthew: Welcome back.

Today on the podcast we’re talking about puberty with A Kids Book About author Dr. Heather Chow.

A Kids Book About Puberty is so clearly and inclusively written, it feels incredibly approachable. It’s one of the things I love most about the books in our A Kids Book About series: each are voiced by a real person with real experience and passion. And these voices speak directly off the page and to the reader. 

And so I asked Heather how she became connected with A Kids Co.



Heather: I really wanted a way to. connect with kids beyond the confines of the clinic walls. And writing a children's book kind of seemed like a perfect way to do that. And then it kind of became a dream of mine. Um, but I wasn't really sure how to make that happen. Never written a book before. How do you…  Where do you even start? 

And so when I discovered a kids code, just kind of on a random Google search, I was really impressed by their approach of using books to spark meaningful conversations between kids and their grown ups. And since I'm passionate about helping to facilitate these types of conversations in clinic, I felt like partnering with A Kids Co. was the perfect fit.

Matthew: Before the break, Heather shared when puberty might occur and what it might look like.

Charlie: You getting hairier. 

Reagan: Pimples. 

Matthew: Yep. Those are both true.

But Charlie, you actually had a question for Heather. I think it’s one that really helps us all to look at puberty as a big picture.

Charlie: How does it change you?

Heather: Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, we've talked about all of the, you know, physical and emotional changes that can happen to a person. And those things can be pretty scary. But I think that the biggest thing to remember out of all of this, out of puberty, going through each kid, is that at the core of it, you are still you.

So on the outside you might look a little bit different. You might be growing a mustache. You might have some pimples here and there. But you are still you. And I think puberty is an exciting time to potentially become the best version of you. 

Matthew: Heather was once a kid, too. 

I didn’t mean that to sound so obvious. I guess, I bring it up to remind you that you’re gonna make it through this, just like everyone else before you.

Heather: You know, thinking about puberty kind of brings about a range of emotions for me. Sometimes I can personally recall the embarrassment I used to feel when I was a kid navigating these changes. 

But I think more often these days, I mostly feel pretty excited. I see it as an opportunity to share my own experiences with puberty and to help facilitate open and honest conversations between kids and their grownups.

Matthew: I’ve been having those conversations for the past couple of years with my kids. Sometimes it feels awkward because I’m not sure if I’m saying the right thing, or if I’m saying it the right way. But honestly, I know that it’s really important that we talk about our bodies. It’s really important for many reasons.

Heather: Yeah, you know, talking about our bodies, especially during puberty, is a really important thing because it helps us understand that all the changes we go through are, again, totally normal. 

And so sometimes when our bodies start changing, it can initially feel pretty confusing or scary at first. But when we go to actually share and talk about it openly, it can make everything seem a little bit less scary and more like a normal part of growing up. It's kind of like saying, “Hey, all grownups go through this and that's pretty cool.” Plus when we understand what's happening with our bodies, it helps us feel more confident and more comfortable with all the changes that we're experiencing.

Matthew: Our time’s almost up. I’m about to send you back out into the world. So let’s  think about how we’ll use what we learned today in order to step out into that world in a more intentional and, perhaps, meaningful way.

Heather, are there any actions we, the listeners, can take to be more considerate, supportive, or kind to our classmates in whatever place they may be in their puberty journey? 

Heather: I really find it helpful when adults or other kids share their own stories. It can make kids going through puberty feel seen and feel less alone. 

After, you know, hearing about your changes when people share them, they may also feel more comfortable to share what they're going through. And then kind of for those other kids who might want more privacy in the meantime, that's totally okay too. Let them know that you're here to support them through their puberty journey. And whenever they're ready to talk, you're here to listen to them. 



Matthew: Thank you to Dr. Heather Chow, author of A Kids Book About Puberty, for joining us today. And special thanks to Charlie and Reagan for lending their voice to this episode.

Charlie: Hello, my name is Charlie. I'm 11 years old. I'm from Texas, and my favorite thing is baseball.

Reagan: My name is Regan, I'm 13 years old, I live in Texas, and my favorite thing is Genshin Impact. 

Matthew: A Kids Book About: The Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner. Our executive producer is Jelani Memory. 

And this show was brought to you by A Kids Co. 

Follow the show wherever podcasts are found and check out other podcasts made for kids just like you by visiting akidsco.com.