A touchy subject: How to talk to your teenager about breast health
For some parents, talking to their children about anything (even the touchy subjects) comes easily, but plenty of us struggle approaching the tricky conversations. So having the right tools to prepare yourself for that conversation is essential.
While chatting about puberty and what to expect is important, another conversation you might want to combine with this is the importance of breast health understanding.
In fact, recent research from the McGrath Foundation shows that women whose mothers spoke to them about breast awareness and puberty are significantly more likely to be breast aware, and in particular are more likely to regularly check their breasts.
Broaching the topic of breast health understanding may not be easy, but it’s incredibly important to do so. By giving your teens the right information, you’re helping them develop lifelong habits and empowering them with skills they can use for life.
Here are some quick tips, to get the conversation started.
1. Timing your conversation
It's important to carefully choose your time and place for these conversations. Be sure to pick your moment wisely; avoid talking when your teenager is "in a mood", and give yourself plenty of time – so don’t open a conversation when you’re both rushing out the door for school or work.
2. Where to have the chat
If you know your teenager will be embarrassed by a particular topic, have the conversation with them when there's no one around. Good places for these conversations are:
- In the car – chances are between dropping them off or picking them up from school, a social event or school sport, you’ll find some one on one time in the car
- Sitting around the kitchen table
- At the park/cafe or at a place that you regularly do something together
3. Using natural triggers
Don’t force the conversation! Look out for natural triggers and opening points to start the conversation:
- When you're watching TV and the topic comes up
- Reading magazines/newspapers together
- Your teenager may start the conversation, take this opportunity and use it
- Look out for conversations that can lead to breast awareness and steer the conversation in that direction
4. Conversation starters
Cat got your tongue? Not to worry – here’s some ways you can start the conversation rolling.
... Have you learnt about breast development at school?
... Are any/many of the girls in your class wearing bras?
... How do you feel about getting/ wearing a bra?
... We should think about going to get you fitted for a bra, let's go shopping
... Have you heard about breast health understanding and what it means?
... Do you know of the McGrath Foundation? I hear they have a program about breast health understanding
5. How to be breast aware
Before you have the conversation, a good place to start is brushing up on your own knowledge. After all, it may have been a while since you were taught about breast health yourself!
So how do you check your breasts?
Look at the shape and appearance of your breasts and nipples in the mirror with your arms by your side. Raise your arms above your head and have another look. Feel all of your breasts and nipples, from the collarbone to below the bra-line, and under the armpit too.
Once your teenager is comfortable with how their breasts look and feel, they'll be able to pick up any changes, and generally feel more confident that they know what's normal for them.