Girls are reaching puberty way too young these days. There I said it. It’s one of those things that is whispered in the shadows and still has such a stigma attached to it that most parents are in denial that it will happen to their daughters and don’t proactively prepare them until it’s too late.
I feel for these girls, I really do. Girls as young as 7 (yes, you read that right) are starting their periods and 7, 8, 9 and even 10 is way too young in my book. Think about when you were in elementary school and how busy you were with friends and dolls and dance lessons. Just from a maturity aspect, these girls are in no way ready emotionally to be pushed into such an adult situation.
I’ll leave it to you to research all the reasons this phenomenon is happening, but the fact is it’s happening at an alarming rate and we need to start educating BOTH girls and parents about how to deal with early puberty. I am a firm believer that the more prepared we all are, the easier the situation will be.
Puberty encompasses so much more than just the onset of menstruation. There is hair growth, aches and pains, acne, breast development as well as all the emotional issues that go along with it. Your daughter is moody, her stomach aches and she doesn’t know why, she is getting taller, her expanding chest embarrasses her, you notice that she really needs to shave her legs. It’s frightening when it starts at 13 or 14, but earlier? It’s terrifying.
How You Can Help Your Daughter Deal With Early Puberty
As the mother of three daughters, I have been in the eye of the storm. I have also seen the way my girls’ friends have reacted to their developing bodies. How, as mothers, can we help our daughters? I have some tips.
Educate early. If I only had one piece of advice to give it would be to talk to your daughter early, early, early. By the time many girls are shown the 5th Grade Girls Movie in school it is TOO LATE. Many girls have already started puberty. 6 and 7 is NOT too early to be discussing periods and breasts and body hair. In fact, the earlier you expose your kids to normal bodily functions, the less likely they will be to have a fear of these changes.
Let your kids know that it’s not something to be embarrassed about. EVERY woman menstruates and girls start at all different ages. The more we talk about it, the faster we lose that stigma that it’s a “secret”.
Be prepared. Have a plan in place for when your daughter first starts her period. What will she do if she sees blood? Who will she talk to if she is in school? A teacher, the school nurse? Buy her a kit that she can keep with her in her backpack and include a change of underwear, a plastic baggie, a few pads and a packet of tissues. The more prepared she feels, the less traumatic the experience will be.
Celebrate. Your daughter might not want everyone under the sun to know when she gets her first period, but do something special for her to show her you are proud of her and that you are welcoming her into the sisterhood of women. A dear friend of the family gave my daughter a huge chocolate bar. You could take her out to a special dinner or give her flowers.
Remember that each body is different. Let your daughter try out different products until she finds one that is comfortable for her. There are thin pads, thick pads, small pads, large pads, cups, tampons, disposable, reusable. Talk with your daughter about all the options (even if YOU don’t particular use them all). The more choice she has, the better. And please… if tampons end up being the answer for her, let her know how to use them properly. TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is still a very real threat to a woman’s health.
While she might start looking different than her friends (breasts, hips, etc.) it isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Just because your daughter might look more grown-up (or not) it doesn’t mean that anybody is better than another. Even Moms all look different and have different body types. Point out that in a few more years everybody will have reached puberty and it won’t be a big deal anymore.
The more confidant and open you are about puberty with your daughter, the more comfortable she will feel about her body changes.
Check out these websites that can be very helpful when dealing with puberty.