is essentially a transition from childhood to adulthood
and is a journey of both exhilarating and exasperating
experiences and surprises. It is a period of dramatic
changes involving both physical and physiological
changes which usually commence from the 10th year,
until the 19th year. However, considering that each
individual develops in his/her unique way, it is
difficult to fix a definite age group. Many others
feel that these days the onset of adolescence is
even earlier, at 8 or 9 years!
Changes during Adolescence
It's a time of rapid physical and emotional changes,
which can be exciting, but also confusing and trying,
for the child and the parent. The beginning of adolescence
is known as puberty, a period sometime between ages
9 and 17 when different hormones are produced by
our bodies. These hormones which start off a whole
process of changes both inside and outside our bodies
may also produce periods of moodiness and restlessness
Puberty is marked by menarche (first menstruation)
in girls, which generally occurs between the age
of 11 and 14 years. For many children, this period
of inevitable, rapid changes and challenges is overwhelming,
and it makes it easier when your daughter knows
and understands what is happening to her. It is
also important to bear in mind that there are individual
variations and it is “normal” for each
child to be “different”, even amongst
girls of the same family. Your daughter may often
need to be reminded of this fact.
this time a lot of physical changes are happening…you
need to explain these to the children.
There are internal changes too…at this
age when the children become irritated easily, means
internal changes are taking place.
- Mothers of adolescents
physical changes occur before the psychological
changes become evident. At puberty, other than menarche,
there is development of secondary sexual characteristics.
The changes that you notice are essentially :
daughter is getting taller, outgrowing her
clothes faster. Her hips are rounder and her
may breakout, mostly on her face, and sometimes
on the back, chest or buttock areas. These
are usually because of the increased sebum
(oil) secretion by the skin caused by the
new hormones released in her body. Excessive
oil also leads to clogged and infected pores,
resulting in acne. The need to cleanse her
face thoroughly and regularly must be explained.
breasts start to grow fuller and in many cases
tend to be tender and painful. Often one breast
grows faster than the other. The nipple becomes
firmer and a dark area around the nipple called
the areola turns prominent. You will soon
need to advise her to wear a bra.
is growth of hair under the arms and around
vulva and clitoris may grow slightly too.
will start to sweat more, mostly under her
arms, and may start using deodorants. It is
important to explain to her about body odour
and emphasize the need for regular baths,
use of soaps and scrubs.
may need to suggest your daughter to wash
and shampoo her hair more often, since acne
can also be caused by dirty hair and dandruff.
may experience a thick white sticky discharge
from the vagina, which is again due to the
hormonal changes. If it is in excess, a gynaecologist
should be consulted.
not already done, you must make your daughter
aware that soon she will be getting her menstrual
period and explain about it and how to cope
most of these changes are obvious and apparent,
easily comprehended by your daughter, she
may need to be told about others. For example,
about pubic hair, vaginal discharge and her
periods, which may be a fearful experience
for a 10 year old. She may also react with
shame, because by this time children begin
to feel awkward and embarrassed about their
bodies. It is also now that your daughter
may start behaving differently, may be more
withdrawn and reluctant to talk.
a mother what can one do? The most important thing
would be to help her feel comfortable about her
body. Explain to her that everybody goes through
the same things, maybe at different times. If she
is worried about any aspect of her appearance, first
acknowledge her concerns, and then reassure her
that however one is, one must feel good about her
own body. It is more important to be healthy and
fit than be fair or possess an hourglass figure.
Say what you may, your daughter may continue to
feel self conscious and inferior, but knowing that
you understand and empathize will go a long way
in building a positive body image.