10 Things Parents Need to Know about Girls and Puberty
Puberty is an exciting and confusing time for young girls. They are excited because this signals “growing up,” but it also can be scary. The more comfortable you are discussing puberty and sexuality, the more your daughter will understand that she shouldn’t be embarrassed or afraid. If you find it difficult to talk about these issues, buy a book about puberty and use it as a guide. Be sure she knows she can come to you to talk about her concerns.
Through sex education classes at school and from books and friends, your daughter is going to hear a lot of new words, such as menstruation, puberty, vagina. And she may be confused about some of the meanings. Be sure to use the correct terminology when talking to her about what changes to expect.
Your daughter might notice yellow or white discharge from 6 to18 months before her first period. This is normal--it's the body’s way of preparing for menstruation.
Besides menstruation, some of the physical changes to expect are: growth spurt, changes in body shape, breast development, body odor, acne, hair growth in pubic area, legs and underarms.
She might be easily frustrated, angry or feel sad for no apparent reason. The emotional changes are sometimes the most difficult for young girls to understand. At some point, every girl has said, “I don’t know why I am crying!”
Where just a few months ago scenes of kissing or romantic gestures were considered weird or “yucky,” they now hold immense interest. She might start daydreaming about relationships and romance. She might develop an intense crush.
Puberty brings with it body odor. Your daughter will probably sweat more than she did before. The oil glands in the body also become more active and your duaghter may notice that her face and hair are greasier than before.
If you no longer use pads or are a single-father household, buy some pads to have on hand. Go over how to use the pads so your daughter feels more comfortable should her first period come when you are not around. Let her know the nurse at school always has pads available.
Some of her friends may develop a large bust, some may be much smaller. Some may have tiny waists and others may be thicker around the middle. Let her know that each body is exactly as it should be and that there there is no “right” or “wrong” size.
If she enters puberty earlier than her friends, she might feel she no longer fits in. Let her know that puberty is normal and that her friends will be going through the same thing over the next few years. Or, if your daughter starts puberty later, she might feel there is something wrong with her. Up to the age 16, anything should be considered normal.