Young people reach puberty at very different rates following their bodies’ own timetable. Being different from average is most stressful for girls when physical development starts at an early age. The first menstrual can happen in some very normal girls as early as the age of nine. Early development can be difficult for a girl for several reasons:
1. It’s embarrassing to be different from peers, especially
if they tease about height or breast development.
2. The girl may have not been adequately prepared for the
onset of puberty. Many parents delay telling their
daughters about menstruation until they are 11 or 12 –
this is too late!
3. Don’t mistake pubertal weight gain for obesity. Re-
assure your daughter that this is an important part of
her normal development.
4. Early maturing girls are often treated and expected to
act as old as they look. Remember that emotional
growth can lag behind physical growth. Let your
daughter’s feelings and behavior be your guide.
Within that emerging young woman is a little girl who needs your love, reassurance and guidance very much.
Dr. Wibbelsman, M.D., is an award-winning author and former “Dear Doctor” columnist for Teen magazine. Chair of Adolescent Medicine for the Permanente Medical Group, Northern California, he is chief of the Teen-Age Clinic at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. Dr. Wibbelsman is the news anchor for a Bay Area television series, “Medicine in the Nineties”.