Puberty is inevitable, but every girl has a unique experience and handles it in her own way. You can help make it a positive experience by helping your daughter know what to expect and reassuring her that some of the weirdness is actually normal!
To help her (and you) know what’s coming, here’s a brief overview of “the order of things”
- Feet and hands grow first.
- Breast buds are next for about 85% of girls.
- Remember that one side usually buds first as a hard, sometimes tender, knot under the areola. The other side will bud within a short time usually, but sometimes it takes up to 6 months.
- Shortly after breasts bud (a sign of circulating estrogen), she will begin to have vaginal discharge (also estrogen-driven).
- Vaginal discharge has an acidic pH that can cause irritation of the surrounding vulvar skin. A mini pad or a skin barrier cream like zinc oxide or a diaper rash ointment can help. Once she has “hair down there” the irritation usually disappears because the hair helps pull the discharge away from the sensitive skin (it IS there for a reason!)
- Pubic hair is second for most girls, but first for about 15%.
- Once she’s sprouting pubic hair, you may also notice acne (and the body odor will probably precede both!).
- The biggest, most rapid growth spurt follows.
- About 6 months after she has grown the fastest (sometimes 2-3 inches in a matter of months), she will start her period.
- Once the period begins, most of her growth is finished, but she will continue to grow in her trunk and there may still be some lengthening in her legs.
- Her growth slows down significantly after her period starts, but most girls will continue to grow at least 1-2 inches over the next few years. Some grow as much as 3 inches more.
- Help her remember and accept that her growth will occur both up and out, and that getting new curves is the norm!
- Breast development is not finished until around age 17 or 18 for most girls.
And don’t forget that through ALL this time, your daughter’s brain is rearranging connections, establishing new patterns of thinking, experiencing more intense emotions, and developing more mature reasoning & decision-making skills. That means the adolescent years are a critical time for establishing good habits, communication skills, and impulse control. None of those come naturally, but they require guidance and practice.
Got more puberty questions? Ask them here!