Life is all about change. And nowhere is this change more evident than in your baby! From a helpless infant to a tantrum-throwing toddler, to a blooming tween – your baby has had quite a journey so far! But the past will pale in comparison to what lies ahead!
With puberty looming large, get ready for a roller-coaster ride. But, even before the ride begins, learn everything you can about the changes your daughter may experience. You’ll need all the help you can get to navigate through the next few stormy years! So, read our post below, to learn all about puberty in girls and how it affects them.
What Is Puberty In Girls?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines puberty as ‘the period of life when a person’s sexual organs mature, and he or she becomes able to have children’.
So, puberty is nature’s way of changing your baby into a beautiful woman. Puberty is the first step towards adulthood.
[ Read: Early Puberty in girls ]
When Do Girls Hit Puberty?
If your daughter is a tween, she is on the cusp of puberty. Girls tend to experience puberty much before boys. But there is no fixed timeline for it.
On an average, girls experience puberty between the ages of 10 to 16 years. But every individual case is different and many girls experience puberty before or after this average median too. Some factors that may determine the age at which your daughter hits puberty include:
Experts have discovered a gene named KiSS1 that is responsible for the onset of girl’s puberty.
2. Family History:
Want to know when your daughter may get her first period? Try and remember when you got yours! If you got your period at age 13, the chances are high that your daughter will do the same.
Research shows that stress can play a major role in determining the time when a girl enters puberty. An increase in stress levels can trigger the early onset of puberty.
Obesity today is common among children. According to studies, obese girls are more likely to experience puberty earlier than underweight girls.
Different Stages Of Girl’s Puberty:
Puberty does not occur overnight. It is a gradual process and takes a few years to complete. The various stages of puberty in girls age are called Tanner stages.
Here are the different stages of puberty that your daughter may experience:
1. Tanner Stage One:
- Tanner stage one is the period right before puberty begins.
- Also called pre-pubertal, this stage does not involve any major physical or mental changes in girls.
2. Tanner Stage Two:
- Tanner stage two occurs between 10 to 11 years of age.
- The stage involves numerous physical changes for girls including height and weight gain, breast development and body hair growth.
3. Tanner Stage Three:
- You can expect Tanner stage three to start around the age of 12
- The stage is all about rapid physical growth and change
- It is also the time for your daughter’s first tryst with acne
4. Tanner Stage Four:
- The fourth stage of puberty begins around the age of 13
- The breast now takes on a more adult appearance
- Rapid growth of body hair is another common occurrence during this stage
- The final frontier of puberty, periods, may occur during this stage
5. Tanner Stage Five:
- The final stage of puberty starts after the age of 14 in most cases
- The phase marks the gradual slowdown of physical changes
Signs And Symptoms Of Puberty In Girls
With puberty comes a rapid change in how a girl looks and feels. Here are the major changes your daughter may experience during puberty:
1. Increase In Height:
Now is the time to grow tall! If your daughter has been looking forward to gaining a few inches, ask her to get ready!
- The girls hitting puberty gain most of their adult height from 9 to 16 years of age.
- The beginning may be a little awkward because the first thing that grows during puberty is the limbs. But tell your daughter not worry because the rest of her body will catch up soon.
- Girls gain the maximum height six months before their periods begin.
- How tall a girl finally is determined by genetics. If you or your partner is on the shorter side, it is possible that your daughter remains petite.
2. Weight Gain:
The second not so happy outcome of puberty symptoms in girls is weight gain.
- As the body develops, girls tend to become chubbier.
- Most fat develops around the upper arms, thighs, and upper back.
3. Change In Body Shape:
Now your daughter will take on a more adult appearance.
- Your daughter’s hips will now become rounder and firmer.
- The waist will become narrower, giving her a more hourglass figure.
4. Development Of Breast:
Another important change that takes place during puberty is breast development.
- Breast development is one of the early signs of puberty in girls.
- Some girls notice changes in their breasts as early as age nine while others may experience the change later.
- The change is gradual, beginning with a slight swelling under the nipples.
- Slowly, the breasts become fuller and bigger.
- Some girls may experience breast tenderness and soreness during puberty too.
- The final appearance and size of the breast depend majorly on genetics.
- It may take up to 2-3 years for the breasts to develop fully.
5. Increase In Hair:
Puberty is also the time for rapid hair growth. In fact, the growth of pubic hair is often the first sign of puberty for girls.
- Starting at around 9 or 10 years of age, girls may notice a spike in body hair.
- Pubic hair growth is one of the most radical changes a girl experiences during puberty.
- The underarms too witness hair growth during puberty. Girls may notice underarm hair a few months after the first appearance of pubic hair.
6. Genital Development:
Girls also experience changes in the genital area during puberty.
- The vulva increases in size.
- There are changes that are invisible too. The vagina now becomes longer.
- The uterus too becomes bigger during puberty.
7. Onset Of Periods:
The most well-known symptom of puberty is the onset of the menstrual cycle.
- A little after the development of breasts, most girls experience their first period. Most girls experience the menstrual cycle at around 12 or 13 years.
- But there is no fixed age when it comes to periods. Factors like family history, weight, and stress can determine when exactly a girl will get her period.
- Most girls experience irregular periods in the beginning. Remember, this is completely normal and nothing to worry about.
8. Beginning Of Vaginal Discharge:
Many girls experience vaginal discharge for the first time during puberty.
- The clear or cloudy vaginal discharge may scare a girl, but it is nothing to worry about. It is just the body’s way of keeping the vagina clean.
- Many girls also notice yellow or white vaginal discharge even before their periods begin.
9. Excessive Sweating:
Another not so pleasant change that a girl may encounter during puberty is excessive sweating.
- The sweat glands in the body become larger during puberty and causes excessive sweating.
- With all the extra fat in the body, sweating can become rather uncomfortable for girls during this stage.
10. Hair And Skin Issues:
While a girl is on her way to becoming an adult, puberty also heralds some not so favorable symptoms.
- Girls may notice their skin becoming oilier during puberty due to the excessive production of sebum.
- The extra oil can clog pores and cause acne.
- Hair too becomes oilier during puberty.
11. Change In Behavior:
The one thing all parents will agree with is that puberty brings out the worst in their teens! Behavioral change can often lead to conflicts during puberty.
- Girls tend to become more aggressive during puberty.
- A rapid increase in hormones results in numerous behavioral changes.
- Mood swings, depression, low self-worth, eating disorders can take a foothold during puberty.
Major Problems In Girl’s Puberty And How To Deal With Them:
Puberty is a tough time, both for you and your little girl. She is changing into a young woman, but the road to adulthood is paved with difficulties! But you can help your daughter navigate this journey better. Here are the major problems that come with puberty, and ways to deal with them:
1. Breast Issues:
The breasts change radically during puberty. They are also the source of a few major problems for teens.
- As the breasts develop, it is common for young girls to feel tenderness and in some cases pain. Though nothing to worry about, it is still wise to talk to your doctor.
- Another breast-related problem many girls encounter is a difference in breast size. Many girls panic when they notice this difference. If your daughter is sailing the same boat, ask her to relax! It is normal for the breasts to develop at different rates during puberty.
- With breast development comes difficulties in clothing. Girls often find it difficult to play sports and wear their favorite clothes, all thanks to their new body!
What Can You Do?
With some easy steps, you can help your daughter deal with all the breast issues.
- Start by telling your daughter to embrace her new body.
- Ask your daughter to check her breast for lumps. Yes, breast cancer is rare among teens, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
- If your daughter develops a painful spot on her breast that looks red; she could have an infection. You’ll need to see your doctor if that is the case
- Buy your princess a good sports bra so she doesn’t have to change her hobbies and interests just because her body is changing.
- A bra is a great thing. But let your teen know that it is wise to let the breasts free at least during the night.
[ Read: Breast Development During Puberty ]
2. Skin Issues:
Call them shallow, but you cannot refute the fact that most teens care, maybe a little too much, about how they look. That is why puberty can be a terrible time for them. Puberty comes with a horde of skin issues:
- Acne is the most common and the most hated skin problem among teens. An overtly active sebum production can lead to clogged pores and acne.
- Genetics, excess production of androgens, excessive combing of hair, excessive sweating, stress, hormonal changes, and certain medications can also lead to acne flare-ups.
- Red, inflamed pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads are the major irritants for girls during puberty.
- Another skin issue that your daughter may experience during puberty is body odor. Puberty causes excessive sweating, which can cause your teen to smell like food gone bad!
- Other common skin issues during puberty include athlete’s foot, cold sores, dry skin, eczema, ringworm, and sunburn.
What Can You Do?
These skin issues can take a toll on your teen’s sense of self-worth. So, it is important that you deal with these issues and teach your daughter to do the same.
- To keep acne at bay, teach your daughter the value of a clean skin. Ask her to wash her skin with a mild soap at least twice a day.
- Keep her from scrubbing or scratching the pimples. That will only make matters worse.
- Change your teen’s pillow covers often and keep them clean.
- Check your teen’s makeup and throw out everything that may cause clogging of pores.
- If nothing works, you can visit your doctor and get some medical advice to deal with an acne outbreak.
- To treat and prevent athlete’s foot, get your teen to wear loose fitting shoes and giving the feet some air to breathe.
- A good anti-fungal cream can do wonders in treating a bad case of athlete’s foot.
- Dealing with body odor is a relatively easy. Regular baths, clean clothes and a good deodorant – get your teen to include these three in her life and say goodbye to body odor.
- For some teens, body odor may be a more serious issue that does not go away with the simple steps mentioned above. They may need something radical treatment. Talk to your doctor about your options.
- Topical creams containing the antiviral drugs acyclovir or penciclovir are the best ways to deal with cold sores.
- A good moisturizer is the first thing your daughter needs to deal with various skin issues, including dry skin.
- Drinking a lot of water too can be a blessing and a sure shot way to a more beautiful and healthy skin.
- It is difficult to keep teens at home when all they want to do is explore the world. Sunburn is a common problem for such travelers.
- A good sunscreen cream should surely be a part of your teen’s skin care routine.
- Encourage your teen to wear protective gear like a cap to stay safe from sunburn.
3. Period Cramps and Other Issues:
The beginning of the menstrual cycle is the most anticipated and popular symbol of puberty. But it is also the cause of many teen issues!
- Many teens experience cramps before and during their periods. The extra hormone in the body causes all the aches and pain.
- Your teen may also experience achy thighs, back pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue during her periods.
What Can You Do?
- No, your daughter does not need to learn to live with the pain. We are not recommending pumping her with painkillers, but she can take a pill or two to get some relief.
- Offer her some ibuprofen for immediate freedom from period pain.
- You can also help her by putting a heating pad or a hot water bottle on her abdomen. The heat can help provide relief from all the cramping.
- If the cramping becomes severe, consult your doctor.
- Let your daughter eat healthily and rest while on her periods. Remember, this is all new to her. Her body needs some time to adjust.
[ Read: When Do You Hit Puberty ]
4. Other Issues During Periods:
The onset of monthly bleeding can make your teen feel all dirty. Some of the problems that come with periods include:
- Many girls experience their first period while out in the public. This can be a cause for huge embarrassment for them.
- Leaking while on periods and soiling their clothes is also a problem among young teens.
- Many teens hate the fact that they have to stop their usual routine while on their periods.
What Can You Do?
- As a parent, you need to arm your daughter with foreknowledge so that she is not caught unawares about her periods.
- Start talking about periods when you notice your daughter developing breasts. In fact, you can start talking about puberty even before that.
- Let your teen carry a pad or tampon. Yes, even in her school bag.
- Teach her how to use a pad or a tampon. Many mothers are weary of their daughter using a tampon. Whether or not you let your young one use a tampon is your call but it is important to remember that using a tampon does not equal losing one’s virginity.
- A tampon can be a great tool if your daughter is into sports, especially swimming.
5. Emotional And Behavioral Issues:
Puberty is a roller coaster of emotions. In fact, the emotional upheaval of puberty can leave a lasting scar on your teen.
- Many girls experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) right before their periods. If you notice your daughter acting up and being crankier than usual before her periods, you’ll know she is going through PMS.
- With all those hormones raging through the body, many girls find it difficult to sleep during the night. Many teens end up with insomnia during puberty.
- Irritability is the badge of honor among teens! That’s what sets them apart from others. Jokes apart, it is normal for a girl to feel irritated with the smallest of things during puberty.
- Many girls also develop social anxiety during puberty. With their body changing, it is but normal for teens to feel unsure about their appearance.
- Unfortunately, many girls also end up with body image issues during puberty. They try to live up to impossible ideals of beauty and fail. This can cause severe damage to their sense of self-worth.
- Eating disorders too are common among teens. Most girls tend to gain weight during puberty. Many teens go to extreme lengths to lose that extra weight. Some go on radical diets while others exercise without a break. In some case, they may even end up with cases of anorexia and bulimia.
- Depression, the elephant in the room, is often the result of all these emotional and behavioral issues that raise their ugly head during puberty.
- Many teens take to substance abuse during puberty. Smoking, drinking, doing drugs all become a passage to adulthood
What Can you Do?
Your baby needs you now more than ever. She may not tell you, but she needs you to show her the way out of the whirlpool of emotional issues plaguing her.
Here are a few things you can do to help your daughter deal with all the changes taking place in her life:
- Most cases of PMS pass once periods are over. So, if your daughter suffers from PMS, give her space and time to deal with it. Tell her that it will pass in a few days. The darkest days of hell are easy to deal with when you know the end is near!
- If your daughter develops insomnia, talk to the doctor. Also, encourage her to imbibe a better bedtime routine.
- Watch her peer group. But refrain from criticizing her friends. Remember, her friends mean to the world to her. Yes, they mean more to her than you do, accept the fact and move on.
- Treat her like the adult she is becoming. Respect her views and opinions. Have conversations with her but don’t preach.
- Teach your teen to love her new body. Begin by accepting your body! If you are always critical of the way you look, you cannot expect your teen to act differently. Lead by example.
- Create a healthy environment at home so she feels comfortable coming to you or another elder for advice.
- Give her freedom but let her know that freedom comes at a cost. Set clear boundaries and use discipline when those boundaries are crossed.
- Watch out for signs of substance abuse. Work closely with your teen’s teachers to keep your kid on track.
Things To Remember:
Here are some handy points to remember about puberty among girls:
- Your daughter may start experiencing mood swings and abdominal cramps a year before her periods start.
- Most menstrual cycles last about 28 days (with the first day of the period counted as day one). But it is perfectly normal for cycles to vary from 21 days to 35 days.
- A monthly period usually last about 5 to 7 days. But some girls may experience bleeding for as many as ten days.
- Your daughter will develop sexual awareness during puberty. Nothing you do can stop that. She will feel attracted to that cool boy in her class. What you can do is keep the channels of conversation open.
- Talk to your daughter about sex and pregnancy. Now is a perfect time!
- It is also normal for girls to develop same-sex attraction during puberty. It does not mean your daughter is homosexual.
When To See TheDoctor?
Sometimes, puberty may take longer than usual to make an appearance. It is completely normal for girls to get puberty at 15 or 16 years of age. But if you are worried, do talk to your doctor.
Some of the reasons for late onset of puberty in girls include:
- Eating disorders
- Hormonal disorders
- Health issues like diabetes, kidney disease, or asthma
Your doctor will be the best person to diagnose and treat late puberty in girls.
Puberty is all about transformation. It is all about leaving childhood behind and embracing adulthood. Sounds bittersweet, doesn’t it? But change is the only constant in life. It is time to let go of your baby and welcome a friend instead!
Is your daughter approaching puberty? What changes is she encountering? Share with us here. Leave a comment below.
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