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Puberty Questions from Girls

Well-Being

Going through puberty can leave girls wondering, “There’s no way this can be normal. Can it?” But many girls feel too embarrassed to ask friends or parents questions about topics like acne, periods, breasts, and pubic hair. Some girls worry they’re growing up too fast. Others feel like they’re being left behind. And most just want to know whether what they’re going through is normal.

You can help ease your daughter’s worry by opening up about your own experiences with puberty. What did you notice first when you went through puberty? How did you feel about it? Did you develop earlier, later, or at the same time as your friends? Letting her know that these topics are okay to talk about is the first step to helping her open up.

girls-talking

 

To get an idea of what questions your daughter might have, read these letters from real girls, along with some tips for tackling each topic. And for more letters, check out Is This Normal?

 

Dear American Girl,

I’m 8 years old, and I have breast buds. Am I too young?
I am really scared.

V from California

 

I am 9 and I am getting bigger breasts than I used to have. No one in my class has breasts. Am I growing too fast? This doesn’t seem right. I don’t want to grow up yet.

Growing too fast

 

Breasts are often the first sign that puberty is starting, and most girls feel both happy and scared to discover them on their chest. If you have breasts, talk to your girl about how old you were and how you felt when you started developing them. Chances are, the two of you share some of the same concerns.

Remind her that this is only the beginning of a process that will take many years. She won’t wake up tomorrow with fully grown breasts. Not only that, but she doesn’t have to suddenly act like a grown-up either. She can still be a kid, and still do all the same things she used to do. Even better, she might also be able to do some things that she couldn’t do a year or two ago, like shop in a new section of the clothing store and gain more independence.

 

Dear American Girl,

I have pubic hair and I love to swim. How can I wear a swimsuit without hair sticking out?

Longing to Swim

 

First, see if you and your daughter can find a swimsuit bottom that covers her pubic hair. Try suits with skirts or ruffles at the bottom, or suits that are cut low across the thigh.

If she can’t find one she likes that covers the hair, you can consider talking to her about shaving the edges of her pubic hair. Emphasize to her that shaving there is tricky because she might get ingrown hairs when the hair comes back, and the new growth can be extremely itchy. You can also consider other hair removal methods, such as using a depilatory—just make sure any product she uses is safe for her bikini area.

 

Dear American Girl,

I think I’m getting close to starting my first period. When I go to the bathroom, I see whitish sticky stuff on my underwear. I’m scared to ask my mom if it’s starting.

McB

 

I’m almost 12 and my breasts have started growing. I read that two years after this you should have your period. Are there other signs it’s coming?

Period at 13?

 

I have had a clear discharge for over two years, and still don’t have my period. Is something wrong with me?

Almost 12

 

girls and mom reading The Care and keeping og us book

The time between a girl’s first signs of puberty and the arrival of her period is hard to predict. Most girls get their period anywhere between two and four years after they notice pubic hair or breast buds, but more time—or less—is normal, too. In any case, it happens toward the end of the puberty process, so she doesn’t need to start planning for it until some of the other changes have started to appear, such as breast development, pubic hair, and vaginal discharge.

Talk to your daughter about discharge, and that it should leave a whitish patch in her underwear but not itch or burn. Any cramps she feels around her hips might mean her period is on its way—but they could also just be everyday twinges that she hasn’t noticed before. Now that she’s paying more attention to what’s going on with her body, she’s more aware of what’s happening on the inside as well as the outside.

Although it’s not always true, girls often get their period around the same age as their mother. If you have periods, talk to your girl about when yours started, and if you remember any signs that it was coming. Besides helping her predict her own period, talking about the experience can open the door to talk more about what’s on her mind.

 

Dear American Girl,

I’m scared, annoyed, and downright embarrassed about my body. I am in sixth grade and am way ahead of almost every girl in school. How do I get guys to stop looking at my breasts and girls to stop calling me names?

Overdeveloped

 

Remind your girl that even though she’s in the spotlight now, her peers will catch up to her in a year or so. Boys her age are often curious about girls’ changing bodies, and they’re not always good at hiding it.

If she notices a boy staring at her chest, she can say “I really don’t like it when you stare at me like that. It feels disrespectful and uncomfortable, and I want you to stop.” And if girls are harassing her, she can remind them that they’re all growing up and that name calling is hurtful. If the teasing doesn’t stop or if she feels scared, she probably needs help from an adult. Let her know that she can come to you or a school official if the teasing escalates to sexual harassment. Teach her the signs to look out for, such as sexual comments, whistling, rude gestures, or people touching her. 

Your girl will be relieved to know that other girls wonder and worry about the same things that she does. She’s not alone, and she’s perfectly normal. Whatever questions she has, she can find the answers. Help her be confident in her own voice and to keep talking with people she trusts. That’s the best way she can care for her growing body—and her spirit, too.

 

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