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Session 12/13

Page 3/7: Topic A: Dialogues about puberty

Topic A: Dialogues about puberty

The changes of puberty are frightening to young people. You can make them much less so if you prepare the child for what it can expect at an early age. In daily conversations you can describe to the child what will happen with the body, its view of the other sex, and its relation to you as caregivers.

A. You can use your reflections from the questions at the start of this session to tell the child how your own transition from child to teenager took place. What was difficult and how did you manage to become an adult and mature person in spite of a difficult teenage period.

B. You should especially tell the child about how teenagers can become angry and disappointed with their staff group and biological parents in puberty. That this is something normal, and that you will not blame the teenager or take it personally when this happens. You will of course still have rules for how to behave and communicate.

Perhaps the child will not be interested in this at the moment, but it will remember what you talked about later, and this will make it easier to talk about again when it actually happens.

For the teenager, role models are necessary and interesting, but it may be difficult to find role models that match the experience of the young person in an institution.

Books about young people of mixed background or conflicting backgrounds usually stir interest.

The Struggle/De Worsteling
Suzanne over haar adoptie
© Universiteit Utrecht, Afdeling Adoptie, David Blitz productions

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Suggest to the teenager to make a personal video interview including his or her reflections on identity development: doubts, dreams, problems and desires. If your teenager has a friend you can ask them to make and present the video together. Help the teenager preserve a copy as part of the life story when he or she leaves the institution.

If you have more teenagers in the institution, you can ask them to produce a video together: examples about what they hope and dream about, what they fear or worry about, how they see their caregivers and parents, etc. This video they can be presented to the staff and there should be a dialogue about it afterwards. Arrange this as a cosy activity. They can also present the video in school to make other teenagers understand what teenage life is like in an institution. Discuss this with their teachers.