You may have heard horror stories about how your friends’ sweet little girls turn into absolute monsters during puberty. You may even remember being a bit of a terror yourself. Well, a 2008 study conducted by Dr. Sylvie Mrug, of the University of Alabama, blames much of this hostility on uninvolved parents. The results indicate that girls who go through puberty, particularly early puberty, without nurturing from or communication with their parents display aggressive behavior.
When Puberty Begins
Girls usually enter puberty, which lasts about two years, between the ages of 8 and 13 years. Some may start earlier and some later. It can be awkward for your daughter if she still looks like a little girl when most of her friends look more like adults or vice versa. Tell her that every girl is different and follows her own schedule. During puberty, your daughter grows faster than at any other time of her life besides when she was an infant.
One of the first signs of puberty is hair growing under your daughter’s arms and on her pubic area. Usually, acne comes next. Your daughter may get pimples on her face, back or upper chest because the puberty hormones increase sebum production, which clogs pores. Your daughter will probably want to start using a deodorant and/or showering every day, because puberty hormones also cause body odor.
Height and Weight
Your daughter will grow taller during puberty, and will stop growing when puberty ends. She’ll also gain weight in her hips, belly, legs and butt. Her waist will get smaller and her breasts will start to develop, which she’ll first notice by some swelling under the nipple. It’s normal if her breasts feel sore occasionally; the soreness usually goes away by the time the breasts develop. Some girls don’t like the weight gain and want to diet. Discourage dieting at this time if your daughter is experiencing a normal weight gain. Your doctor can tell you what a normal weight is for your daughter.
Usually, about 2 1/2 years after your daughter starts developing breasts, she’ll get her period. Tell your daughter that she ovulates prior to her first menstrual cycle, which is how some girls get pregnant without ever having had a period. Explain to your daughter that she might also have a white, mucousy discharge from her vagina. Show your daughter how to use pads and tampons, and let her decide which to use. Take your daughter to the doctor if her periods last more than seven days, she has severe cramps that over-the-counter medicine doesn’t help,she goes three months without having a period or she hasn’t started her period by age 15.
All of these changes, combined with the different hormones, make most girls more emotional. Your daughter may become upset or anger easily. Getting back to the Mrug study, if you have a daughter who starts puberty on the early side, the study found that these girls are at higher risk of forming relationships with older boys, who are more likely than younger boys to engage in bad behavior. If parents are involved, they can help with challenges young girls may not be able to handle on their own. Talk with your daughter about her new emotions and about sex. Let her know that she can talk to you about anything.