Puberty Girls

Typically, puberty in girls tends to happen between the ages of 8 and 13 and can last between 2 and 4 years. What many people don’t realise is that a girl’s first period is actually the final step in the road to puberty. Everything else happens before their first menses.

The first signs will be the development of breast tissue with small buds appearing. It starts just under the nipple area and these small lumps can be a little painful and also initially different sizes. This change will usually also signal the start of a 20cm (average) growth spurt over the following two year period. About 6 months after the initial breast development, the first pubic hair will start to grow along with hair under the arms. In some children the first obvious sign of puberty may be the growth of this hair, and this is perfectly normal too. Breasts will continue to grow over the following few years, as will the amount of pubic hair and the development of the external genitalia. This will lead to her first period (menarche) which typically takes place between the age of twelve and thirteen. The first period will usually occur about two years after the first signs of puberty having started. The starting of the period will also coincide with the completion of the growth spurt and girls are unlikely to grow significantly more after this time. The body will continue with these changes and typically complete them in three to four years. A girl will also have reached her final adult height about two years after her first period.

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Emotional changes

Along with the physical changes, there are also emotional changes. Interests in the opposite sex, mood swings, anxiety or even excitement about the physical changes to her body. This is often also a time where children will identify more with the future and suffer concerns regarding the future responsibilities in their lives. Separating from their parents may feature in their thought patterns which can lead to overwhelming emotions.

As a parent or carer, you can help her through all of these changes. Talk to her about the changes which will happen/are happening to her body and why they are necessary. Explain to her that she’s not alone. Tell her that you went through similar changes and so will all her friends too. Once she develops breasts, take her to get her first bra and make sure it’s fitted properly. Most large department stores offer a bra fitting service including Marks & Spencer and John Lewis. If she’s too shy to be fitted, you can fit her yourself by following this guide.

Talk to her about how children can be cruel. How she might get teased by other girls or boys. Girls might do it because they are insecure in the whole thing, to make themselves look cool, or because they are jealous and boys may do it to be cool within their peer group, or simply to get her attention. Help her develop her own coping techniques so she’ll be able to handle whatever comes her way. Some children are better to be taught to ignore it and explained that if they don’t react to the teasing, then the children will stop. Others may find it easier to turn it all into a bit of a joke. “You mean I have breasts? Really? Oh wow I didn’t notice!” Go with whichever technique is best suited to your daughter. If the teasing gets really bad, she should be told she can talk to you, or someone at school.

In all of this, it should be explained to your daughter that you love her very much and while it’s a scary time, you’ll be next to her every step of the way.

How did you, or how do you plan on handling the topic of puberty with your tween? What advice can you offer parents going through this now? Are girls worse than boys?