Puberty and Girls
Puberty is a time of change for your daughter. She is growing from your little girl to a young woman. Because of a change in her hormones, her body is going through changes and so are her emotions. Your daughter may start to want more independence as she goes through puberty. It is best to remember that this is very normal.
Girls usually begin puberty between the ages of 9 and 13. The biggest change your daughter will go through is getting her period. This can be confusing for some girls, so remember to be as supportive and understanding as possible.
How will her body change?
- Breasts: For most girls, breast development is the first stage of puberty. Not all girls develop at the same rate, so your daughter may feel embarrassed if her breasts are larger or smaller than other girls. Once your daughter's breast develop, she will need a bra. You may be very excited about getting your daughter her first bra, but try to remember her feelings. Girls can sometimes get embarrassed just talking about bras.
- Hair: Your daughter will start to notice hair growing on her legs, under her arms and in her pubic area. This is normal, and your daughter may want to shave her legs and under her arms. If this is the case, be sure to give her a razor and shaving cream
- Body Shape: When girls go through puberty their hips tend to get wider and their waist may get smaller. You daughter might also notice her body carrying more fat in her stomach, butt and legs.
- Body Size: Your daughter may feel awkward or clumsy during puberty; this is because her arms, legs, hands and feet might grow faster than the rest of her body.
- Skin: Acne is something many girls will encounter. Whether your daughter has a severe or mild case she may be self-conscious. Remind her that there are ways to manage acne. Additionally, your daughter may notice an increase in sweating. The best way to manage increased sweat, is to shower daily and use deodorant or antiperspirant.
- Menstruation: Most girls begin menstruation between ages 9 and 16.
What happens during her period?
Once your daughter begins puberty her ovaries start releasing eggs into her uterus. If that egg is not fertilized it, will not become a baby. When the body senses there is not going to be a baby, the egg and the lining of the uterus are discharged – this is her period.
Your daughter will need to wear a pad and/or use tampons to absorb the fluid. Pads can be worn in her underwear, and tampons go inside the vagina. Let your daughter decide which option she prefers. If she decides to use tampons, remind her to change them frequently, and to never leave a tampon in overnight. For most girls, their period lasts between three and seven days.
There are some common symptoms your daughter might get with her period, they include:
- Mood swings
- Soreness or swelling in her breasts
There are other more serious symptoms that your daughter could experience. If she has any of the following symptoms, contact your pediatrician:
- A sudden change in her period with no obvious cause
- Bleeding between periods
- Severe abdominal pain that lasts for more than two days and is not early in your period
- Very heavy bleeding that lasts more than seven to ten days
Your daughter may become more sensitive to what others think of her during puberty. You might also notice a shift in her friends; certain ones become more important and others less important. The best thing you can do for her is to be supportive and remind her that everyone goes through puberty.
The decision to wait or not?
Whether you want to think about it or not, with puberty comes the issue of sex. Your daughter may wonder about the following:
- When is it okay to kiss?
- When should I start dating?
- When will I be ready for sex?
As her parent, your daughter may look to you for answers. She may feel pressure from the media or friends to have sex before she’s ready. To help her make the best decision, remind your daughter that it is a personal choice only she can make for herself. If she ends up waiting or not, it’s your responsibility to be sure she understands the risks associated with having sex.