This is a time in every girl’s life when she starts to embrace who is she going to become. Help her to embrace this journey as well!
Puberty often begins earlier than parents think – some girls can start as early as eight years old and others as late as 16. During this time, there are many opportunities to talk to your daughter about the changes she is and will be experiencing. Though this topic could be embarrassing for you and/or your daughter, it is important to remember that she needs to know what is going on in her body. There may be changes in her body that make her self-conscious and she may question if she is ‘normal.’ This is a time in every girls’ life when she starts to embrace who is she going to become, help her to embrace this journey as well!
Try to break the ice first. First thing to remember, you are the grownup here. Let her know your experience with puberty, how your parents may have had the ‘talk’ with you (or may not have) and how that made you feel. Odds are your daughter has some questions and opening up about your experiences will put her at ease.
Let her know the facts – no one enjoys being blind sided, especially when it comes to issues about their body. Let her know what she should be expecting and what isn’t normal – things she should be on the lookout for and communicate if they occur.
Physical changes during puberty:
- Body fat increase
- Breasts begin to enlarge
- Pubic hair growth
- Height and weight increase
- First menstrual period occurs, usually accompanied by menstrual cramps
- Hips widen
- Underarm hair growth
- Skin and hair become more oily – girls may need to start wearing deodorant
- Pimples may appear
It’s time to visit a doctor if she notices any of the following:
- Heavy vaginal discharge that itches, burns, or has an odor
- No signs of puberty (breast growth, underarm hair, or pubic hair) by age 14
- No periods by age 16
- Regular periods for 4-6 months and then no periods for more than four months
- Menstrual cramps that cause her to miss school or significantly disrupt her normal activities
- Heavy bleeding
- Bleeding lasting longer than 10 days
- Any signs of pregnancy (a missed period, tender breasts, upset stomach)
Plan Ahead – Make a point to discuss her impending period before she receives her first one. When she is around nine or ten years old and hasn’t started her period (or even if she has!), have her stash a pad or two in her backpack or locker. Nothing is worse than starting your period at school for the first time without being prepared. Wearing a bra for the first time can also be another huge milestone. Before you go shopping for your daughter’s first bra, measure her first so that you know what size to look for.
Be her biggest fan – Going through puberty strikes feelings of insecurity in everyone; all girls develop at different ages, some older and some younger. She may be the first or last of her friends to develop breasts or start her period – both ends of the spectrum can be stressful. Remind her that everyone goes through these stages differently and not always at the same pace. This stage of life can be very hormonal, prepare yourself for more emotion and stress and try to be understanding. You’ve got this!
If you ever need to discuss with your doctor ways to review puberty with your daughter, we are always here to help!