A girl's teenage years are rarely a walk in the park. If you're gearing up to watch your daughter go through the physical, emotional, and social changes which accompany growing up, you'll want to know how to best help her through puberty. Luckily, we've compiled all the essential information and tips in one place - you'll be an expert on female adolescence in no time!
For girls turning into young women, puberty creates myriad changes in both body and mind. Firstly, growing up means weight gain and height growth, so prepare your daughter for a few years of increases in her body measurements.
Girls will also mature sexually during adolescence. This includes the development of the breasts to the growth of pubic hair. What these changes anticipate is the beginning of the menstrual period, which typically begins an average of two years after the onset of puberty (which can itself strike anywhere between the age of 8 to 13).
Here's a rundown of ovulation you can use to explain menstruation to your daughter: ovulation refers to the process of an egg being released from the ovaries: and because the egg is unfertilized, the uterus' lining is shed - which is the process we call a period.
You'll also observe changes in the behaviour and intellectual capacities of your daughter. By the end of adolescence, your daughter will be able to think conceptually; she'll start to actively seek her independence; she'll stake more importance on the opinions of her peer group than ever before; and, perhaps most alarmingly of all, she'll become more interested in romantic relationships.
How can you talk to her about it?
1. Provide information and resources where you can
There's nothing worse than experiencing puberty without the proper supplies. Make sure your daughter is prepared by putting together a puberty survival kit early on. This is something both parent and child can do together: help her to choose different types (training, sports, normal) of bras and include period pads, cups, and/or tampons, cramp relief and medication such as paracetamol, and shaving razors if she wishes. It's a good idea to also include a diary and instructions about how to use the items in her kit. Use these resources as a means to discuss with your daughter about balancing education, relationships, extra-curricular activities, and all the other elements of being a teenager without losing herself to mood swings and stress.
2. Guide her through the "awkward" stage
Many girls fear the "awkward" stage that is adolescence, especially when it comes to physical changes which they may perceive as unattractive or undesirable. Very heightened levels of anxiety can become dangerous, especially regarding the body image issues and eating disorders that can result from such worries. Encourage your teen to love and look after her body, and gently but firmly talk with your daughter about the importance of keeping a healthy mindset even if they see other girls become preoccupied with their weight.
Help your daughter gain a habit of putting health before beauty. Regarding treatable aesthetic issues, such as acne resulting from a hormonal increase in sebum production, help your daughter to find right products and treatments to match her skin type which will help her to feel more comfortable in her skin.
3. Emphasise the normality factor
Too often, girls feel alone or freakish as they go through adolescence. Every girl's rate of change will be vastly different, which may be why your daughter feels this way - but it's worth pointing out to her that nearly every woman on earth has experienced the same processes she's going through. At the same time, remind your teen that maturation isn't a competition. Girls are apt to compare their bodily changes to those of their female peers, so if you can nip this tendency in the bud, you'll have a much happier teen in the long term.
Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who has a passion for healthy living, beauty, and fitness. When she's not writing, you'll find her sweating it out in the gym, practicing yoga or checking out the latest beauty trends. You can find more of her work on her Tumblr.