Is your daughter approaching puberty? If yes, then this is the right time to talk to her about the physical and emotional changes which she is soon to face. As she develops, she is bound to have many questions and answering them in a frank and honest manner will help her become a confident women. Here are few tips to help you handle this situation tactfully and open up communication.
- As girls grow their height and weight will increase. Around 9 years of age girls begin to gain 17%-18% of their adult height. Similarly just as they approach puberty most girls will observe more fats along the upper arms, thighs and upper back. Hips would grow rounder while waist will get narrower. Explain your child that this is normal and just a process of growing up and they need not to worry about it. If the weight gain seems abnormal consult a doctor. You can also plan some change in diet to suit the growing-up requirements.
- The next big sign of puberty is breast development. It can start by the age of 10 or little later. Some girls may find this uncomfortable and it is essential for mothers to explain about this natural change to them in a right manner. Also, as her breast develops she would need a bra, talk to her about it. Make buying the first bra a fun experience for her. Go to a good shopping outlet, help her select the right one as per her size and shape and of course her favourite color and style. A training bra which is just a soft one without actual support can prove helpful at the beginning.
- Increasing hair especially at pubic area is also an early sign of onset of puberty. Hair on arms, legs, underarms also increase in this period. Whether to shave the hair or not is a personal choice and there is no medical reason to do so. But, if your daughter express desires to shave her hair help her to do so, ask her to use warm water and soap and razor specially designed for women. Explain her importance of using a personal razor and not sharing it with anyone. Also, make sure you tell her to take extra care of pubic area, as hair around this area has to be cleaned carefully to avoid cuts and bruises.
- Onset of puberty also leads to noticeable changes in skin. Girls tend to have more oily and sweaty skin around this age and also develop acnes. Teach your girl how to take proper care of skin by taking shower daily, use of deodorant to keep sweat and smell at bay and usage of beauty products to take care of face skin and restrict or avoid pimple development. However, if you notice that the acnes are growing uncontrollably or she is sweating a lot than normal, you should probably consult a doctor.
- The most important discussion about puberty revolves around menstruation cycle. It is always advisable to talk about impending periods prior to its onset, as girls who are completely unaware may get panic-stricken when they see sight and location of blood. Discuss the biology of menses and tell her their significance. If you are unsure of the details, consults a doctor or read some books so that you are prepared to answer all her queries. Also, tell her about any other secretion like white, thick substance that she may notice and when to seek medical help. Cramping of lower abdomen, bloating and at times weakness are few symptoms many girls face along with their cycles. Tell her about these and get some painkiller to help relieve the pain after consulting a doctor. Make sure she has enough supply of pads or tampons and also explain her importance of changing them regularly. Reassure your daughter that menstruation is very much a natural phenomenon and it is perfectly alright to lead a normal life during this phase. She can surely participate in sports, swimming or go for a trek while menstruating as long as she is comfortable and has necessary supplies.
- Puberty, menstruation, weight gain and other changes and surge of hormones in body can cause moodiness in some girls. Irritability, difficulty in sleeping, anxiety or dietary cravings is few things that girls experience. Some girls may face decreased self-esteem especially if they hit puberty earlier than their friends. As a mother of a growing up girl, it is necessary for you to notice and understand these changes and answer all her concerns to ease the emotional stress. Balanced diet, plenty of sleeps and regular exercise can prove beneficial.
You should seek medical attention if you experience specific problems like vaginal discharge, no signs of puberty till age of 14, no periods till the age of 16, no periods after few months of regular periods, bad menstrual cramps that make daily activities difficult, heavy bleeding or bleeding lasting for more than 10 days etc.
If you are not quite comfortable explaining all this to your daughters, practice it or talk to your doctor regarding the same. Remember it is essential to talk about puberty in an open and informative manner to help your daughters to be prepared for the changes ahead. So do not shy away from it, make the growing up phase of your daughter is an enjoyable one.