It seems as though girls today are developing earlier than previous generations. On average, it’s not unusual for 8 or 9-year-olds to begin breast development and 11-year-olds to notice pubic hair and the onset menses (period). Understandibly, this transition can be challenging for girls. But girls who develop earlier than their peers often feel isolated, scared, and confused about their changing bodies. And the think that they are the only ones developing at all.
Watching your daughter develop into a young woman in front of your eyes often brings out mixed emotions. As parents, we find ourselves torn between feeling proud of our daughters and dreading what the next phase of her life brings. We helplessly watch as the dreaded hormones kick-in and our daughter’s begin to struggle with the new challenges of becoming an adult.
Added to the hormone surge, are additional issues your tween may face if she’s an early bloomer. This means that she’s the first to develop breasts and wear a bra among her group of girlfriends. Unfortunately many early bloomers find themselves on the receiving end of lots of jokes and teasing – especially from boys. She’ll need your love and support on this journey, so take it together.
Help Her Bloom Gracefully:
- Say it without “Saying It!“ The onset of puberty can be a scary time for girls as they watch their body change right in front of their eyes. It can be extremely awkward for your tween to approach you about these dramatic changes and even more embarrassing if you directly confront her. Instead, find a way to support her indirectly. Suggest a trip to her favorite store for a shopping spree. Buy her new tops and suggest that she also purchase some bras. This is a subtle way to make a suggestion without seeming confrontational. Plus, she’ll get the message that you’ve noticed and that you are trying to be helpful.
- It’s all about accessorizing. Many early bloomers try to hide their bodies. Your daughter may wear extra baggy shirts or grow her hair long to hide her bust. When you go shopping, help her find shirts that compliment her figure. When she looks for a bra, suggest a sports bra which will help minimize her bust.
- Predict the future. Gently (don’t get too graphic!) let her know that there may be other changes occurring in addition to her newfound breasts. Usually underarm and pubic hair emerge around the same time, so let her know she can expect this and that it’s normal. You can give her more control over the situation by telling her where the razors are if she decides to start shaving. Offer to show her how to shave, but be careful – don’t insist on it. She may be too embarrassed. Let her try herself, if she gets a few nicks, it’s all part of the learning experience.
- Talk about teasing. If she complains that she is getting teased, listen to her. Acknowledge how she feels and reassure her that things will get better. Offer to do something fun with her to give her some extra attention. Going to lunch or getting her nails done is lots of fun for both of you!
- Remember she’s still a child. As girls begin to develop, it’s easy to start seeing them as older than they really are. Don’t try to push her to grow up too fast. Just because she’s wearing a bra doesn’t mean that her emotional development has caught up to her physical development. Let her be a kid.