As your daughter approaches puberty, knowing what to look for can ease your mind, and help your tween through these enormous physical and emotional changes. While some of the signs of puberty may take a while to develop, others may appear as if they happened overnight.
Girls, on average, experience their first signs of puberty at age 10, and some as early as 8! Note: if your girl shows signs of puberty before the age of 8 or hasn’t shown any signs by the age of 13 you should take her to see a doctor.
Menstruation usually begins about two years after the onset of puberty and usually before girls turn 13.
Girls bodies will begin to change: increase in body fat, breasts will develop, pubic hair will grow, underarm hair will grow, hips will widen, and hair and skin may become oily . Puberty is also the start of the peak growth period for girls; height and weight will increase.
When you talk to your preteen about these physical changes in her body be sure to emphasize how natural and normal it is and that every girl develops at a different rate–she’ll catch up with her friends and vice versa. And remember, with all these changes happening, your preteen is already feeling awkward about her body and maybe a little clumsy so avoid any teasing or joking, no matter how good-natured it may be.
And do talk to your preteen about menstruation–it may occur sooner than you think. Some things to keep in mind:
- Menstruation is normal.
Several months before her first period, clear or white fluid, called physiologic leukorrhea may be secreted by glands in her vagina. This too is normal.
- Cramping may occur before or during menstruation and if they get bad, her doctor may have some suggestions such as physical exercise or medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.
- Be sure your daughter has the supplies she will need for her first period and that she understands how to use them: that pads or tampons need to be changed several times a day and that tampons should not be worn overnight.
Emphasize that this is all normal, that girls can participate in all their normal activities while menstruating.
You also may inquire about scheduling an educational visit with your family physician to discuss some of these issues.
* Books can make it easier to begin “the talk” with your daughter about puberty and menstruation. Check out our hand-picked favorites where your daughter can learn about her changing body. These Books are also great resource to pass on to friends and family members who may not have someone to talk to about the changes they are experiencing.