What to do When Children Go Through Puberty Early

Is your preteen an early developer? There may be special challenges early bloomers face when they mature early.

During puberty our children’s bodies are going through dramatic changes and growth. Generally these changes begin to take place during the preteen years, with girls beginning to develop breasts, and both sexes experiencing some hair growth in the genital area or under the arms. Full maturity usually doesn’t occur until the teen years, but sometimes a child can be an early bloomer, with a twelve year old having the body of an eighteen year old.

Sometimes social and behavior difficulties can arise in the early developing child. Pediatrician and author of All Shapes and Sizes, Dr. Miriam Kaufman says when children do develop early they “often feel very different from their peers, that they’re going through something that nobody else is going through. They often feel that because they look a lot older than they really are, then that’s the age group they should be hanging out with.”

If your child does go through puberty early, it’s important to treat your child according to his or her age rather than appearance. Dr. Kaufman adds treating the early bloomer as a child, rather than as a teen may protect them from some potential behavior or social problems. Some of these children might argue that “they want to be out late at night, they want to be with their friends. They don’t think there should be any restrictions on their activities, and they should be treated like 18 year olds. But they don’t have the judgment often to do that.”

Premature puberty can also signify underlying medical problems. So while the individual timetable for the onset of puberty varies greatly, if your daughter shows signs of entering puberty before the age of eight or your son before the age of eight or nine, then it’s a good idea to seek a medical opinion.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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