Before your daughter starts her period, she’ll start to show some other physical and emotional signs of puberty – sometimes these changes will happen two years before she starts menstruating. Every child will develop at their own pace, but here are some of the major indicators that puberty has arrived.
1. Breast development
Growing breast buds is usually the first sign of puberty in girls. It’s totally normal for one breast to grow quicker than the other and your daughter might say that her buds feel tender and sore. It’s around now that you could think about switching her vest for a supportive cotton crop top or even first bra if she’s developing quickly.
2. Body hair
In early puberty, fine and soft hairs will start to grow in your daughter’s pubic area and they’ll become coarser, thicker and curlier as puberty progresses. Her armpit hair will also start to grow around the same time.
3. Spotty skin
High hormone levels in puberty can trigger greasy skin and an outbreak of spots. Encourage your daughter to keep her skin clean by washing it with a very gentle soap or face wash specifically for teenagers.
4. Mood swings
It can seem that just overnight your daughter transforms from a sweet little girl to a stroppy teenager, but up-and-down emotions are part and parcel of puberty. Oversensitive, moody or challenging behaviour are due to the surge of hormones associated with puberty and will level out eventually.
About six months to a year before your daughter starts her period, you’ll probably notice a white or yellowish discharge in her knickers. This is the hormones in the glands of the vagina and cervix kicking into action and a signal her period will follow in time. The discharge helps to keeps the vagina area moist and protects it from damage or infection. How much fluid is produced will differ from girl to girl but your daughter can wear a thin panty liner if the feeling of it is uncomfortable for her.
6. Weight gain and growth
Before your daughter’s period starts, it’s likely she’ll have a growth spurt. Her hands and feet will get bigger and she’ll shoot upwards. Putting on weight and developing a female shape is also a telltale sign of puberty, so filling out around the hips, thighs and tummy is normal.
During puberty, sweat glands become more active, so you might notice your daughter’s clothes begin to smell a bit whiffy, especially after sport or on a hot day. If she’s starting to sweat under her arms, it’s time to introduce a very mild deodorant and encourage her to shower more often.
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Image: Manjit Thapp