Watch for puberty signs in your child and help them out!
All human beings go through puberty, and no one's experience is exactly alike. During puberty, your body will grow faster than any other time in your life.
Puberty is the time in life when your child's body becomes sexually mature and transitioning from child to adult. It is when you start to change from being a child to a young adult. It causes physical changes and affects males and females differently. So, how do you know your child is going through puberty? The changes during puberty are physical, sexual, social and emotional. Puberty starts when changes in your child's brain cause sex hormones to be released.
Puberty usually starts around age 10 to 11 ( range from 8 to 14 years) for girls. But it can begin as early as age 8; and puberty usually begins around age 11 to 13 ( range from 9 to 16 years) for boys. It can start as early as age 9.
Your child will experience many changes in their body over the years.
In girls, the first sign of puberty is usually breast development; then, hair grows in the pubic area and underarms. They may develop acne and eventually experience menstruation (period).
In boys, puberty usually begins with enlargement of the testicles and penis; then, hair grows in the pubic area and underarms. They may develop acne, muscle growth, voice deepening, and facial hair develops as puberty continues.
Your child may experience increased sweat and body odour and a growth spurt (around 11 cm a year in girls and up to 13 cm a year in boys). They also experience sudden mood changes.
How can you help?
Adjusting to puberty can be difficult for both parents and young people. With good communication and support from family and friends, most young people can make this experience more manageable.
Let your child know the changes are normal and help them come out of this different but important time in life. Make your child comfortable enough to share with you when they notice any of the above changes.
As a parent, you can help your child go through puberty by being reassuring, talking positively to them about what changes are expected.
When to see a paediatric endocrinologist?
Puberty may start earlier or much later. Premature puberty is when physical changes of sexual maturation appear before eight years in girls and nine years in boys. In contrast, delayed puberty is when physical changes of sexual maturation do not appear at 13 years in girls and 14 years in boys.
Remember, puberty is a normal phenomenon that every child goes through. As a parent, you should help them out to sail through puberty without any concern.
The writer is a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at the Department of Paediatrics and CDIC Paediatric Diabetes Centre, BIRDEM 2, Diabetic Association of Bangladesh. E-mail: email@example.com