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PUBERTY IN GIRLS; ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

PUBERTY IN GIRLS; ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

One particular lunch break, I realized that all my peers had noticeable breasts but me. All I had was a lump. The girl with the next smallest breast to me already wore top bras. I remember the shame I felt. I remember how withdrawn I was. I remember how embarrassed I felt. I was the tallest in my class but it did nothing to comfort me. I felt even more ashamed because my body ensured that even with my incredible height, my marker for womanhood was barely existent. I had begun my period at this time but my breasts just refused to mature. I admired how our uniforms fit the other girls and desperately wished my height could have been traded for my breasts’ size. Anyways, I had no such luck! The end result? All my classmates had boyfriends but me. It was a stigma for me for so long. Until I eventually gave in to peer pressure towards the end of high school and had my boyfriend. Need I say I was very insecure in my new found relationship because I felt I was not feminine enough to keep a boyfriend.

  That was my adolescence journey in High school. When I remember the emotional trauma it caused me, I sometimes cringe because we many times forget our own personal adolescence experiences when interacting with our adolescents. There is a general consensus that adolescence is an important stage in the life cycle. This is because our little humans are most vulnerable in this phase and understandably so. For girls who go through puberty early, the immediate consequences are that they tend to have greater independence, and they tend to be very popular with the boys. Unfortunately, it’s also a period of much more conflict than normal. Even though this can be totally minimized using our unconventional parenting tools available for free!!! We all know that puberty is not just the onset of height, for girls, they grow breasts, hips, and all sort of things like that. Early adolescence in girls predisposes them towards getting poorer marks in school, with some increased delinquency too. These girls tend to have earlier sexual experiences, and kind of like the boys, more substance use, more depression, and more body image issues. As parents, we strongly advise that before your female child hits puberty, ensure that you must have gone through all our TRAIN UP curricula [which is highly subsidized] so that you are better equipped to handle the demands that come with the early onset of puberty. On the other side of things, girls who go through puberty late, maintain their good marks in school, so they don’t seem to have that issue. They start dating later, possibly because they’re not as popular with the boys. Interestingly, this was my story. I was the best student right from Junior School till Senior School up until I got really deep in my relationship and lost my position to someone else. I couldn’t bring myself to focus on classwork because I was always wondering who else my boyfriend was seeing.

My grades dropped drastically as a result and I lost the position of the best graduating student. So, those are the immediate consequences that adolescents experience in the moment. As adults, girls who go through puberty early tend to have difficult social relationships, and lower levels of education completed. These girls tend to drop out of school earlier. And they tend to have more mental health issues and substance use issues. Again, some of this may have to do with where they were in the social hierarchy in high school, and if they carry those skills to the adult world, the adult world will kick them out. For girls who go through puberty late, one of the major consequences is that they complete higher levels of education. They maintain good marks in high school and then continue to do well academically later in life. How do you help your female child go through these pubertal changes with as much precision as you can muster?

  1. Be Open and Vulnerable: Nothing breeds trust and emotional safety like vulnerability.
  2. Be a Friend: It is amazing how the traditional model of parenting finds friendship with their adolescents as taboo. I have come in contact with parents who strongly believe that being friends with their adolescents water down the dominating effect they have over their children. While this is not only wrong, being domineering is one of the poorest ways to raise a child in the 21st-century social clime.
  3. Be Empathetic: Remember what your adolescence felt like. Bing back to memory what you liked and didn’t like. What you felt your parents should have done differently and weigh the consequences. Growing up in no way detaches you from your childhood and adolescence. The true art of ‘growing up’ is being able to make logical decisions without losing your sense of wonder.

As parents, what’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with right now that I can help you with? You can leave your comments or send me a mail at TBOG@tsageandtbog.com. If you enjoyed reading this, don’t forget to share it with other parents.

PUBERTY IN BOYS; ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

PUBERTY IN BOYS; ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

As a counsellor to adolescents and adolescent managers, I’ve seen it happen. Suddenly, the little boy you’ve raised and loved looks different. Changes in his body have him asking questions, or he may be seeing his friends changing and wonder when it will be his turn. I actually have friends who waited eagerly to grow beards! Even though we are familiar with the markers of puberty, are we well versed in the consequences of an early or delayed onset of puberty in the behavioural patterns of our teenagers? Of course, as parents, we all went through puberty ourselves — though it feels like eons ago! For children starting puberty, understanding the changes they will experience before they happen can be somewhat reassuring. In today’s article, we shall beam the light on how puberty affects boys (now and in later life) and how we can as parents be well–equipped to handle the demands of puberty on both our teens and ourselves.

 

Jones conducted a research that gave insights to the challenges boys face when they begin puberty earlier or later than their peers. Boys who go through puberty early [when compared to their mates especially within their circle] tend to have greater self-assurance. They tend to be rated as more attractive and more masculine, and they tend to be more popular with their peers. These are all bonuses for boys who go through puberty early. But it also turns out that the boys who go through puberty early tend to have increased substance use, more delinquency, and more psychological issues. So, there are some pros and cons to going through puberty early. This should serve as a guide for us as parents in gaining insights into the peculiar struggles our boys face with respect to their changing bodies and how we can act as guides as they go through.

Teenage boys in school uniform smilingAs a high school class teacher for a number of years, I have personally observed my shorter male students appear more troublesome than their taller peers. At the time, I had no scientific explanation for such segmentation but I was curious. Here’s what I found. For boys who go through puberty late, they tend to be socially awkward. They tend to misbehave in class a bit more than boys who go through early, possibly because they’re trying to get some attention, or trying to set themselves apart. And they do display some anxious behaviours. But, it’s not just the immediate consequences of early and late puberty that are important. There are some later consequences in adulthood that seem to be related to going through puberty early or late.

 

For boys who go through puberty early, later on, they tend to be more domineering but also more responsible. They tend to have a lot of self-control, but that can also make them rigid and a little bit conforming. They tend to be more advanced in their career but have some difficulty coping with stress, and they can tend to have more intimacy difficulties. Many studies show that most pre-adolescents want nothing more than to fit in so, anything that makes them feel conspicuous tends to have a subtle but definite long-lasting effect on mental health. It could also be that the anxious things they learn in the social hierarchy in high school do not work serve them very well the adult world. So, these boys have to come up with new ways of dealing with other people and social interactions if they’re going to participate in the adult world.

 

For boys who go through puberty late, later on in life, they tend to have a good sense of humour, clearer insight into issues, a sophisticated understanding of themselves, and good intimate relationships. It could be that not being the top of the social totem pole actually helps them out later in life. As parents, we need to be well equipped with the tools for navigating the 21st-century adolescent social space because what tended to work in our time, might be redundant in this clime.

 

How do we help our adolescents through this period?

  1. Listen: We should be curious about what’s going on in our teen’s life this period. Asking direct questions might not be as effective as simply sitting back and listening. listen to your adolescents. What they say and what they don't sayTeens are more likely to be open with their parents if they don’t feel pressured to share information. Remember even an offhand comment about something that happened during the day is her way of reaching out, and you’re likely to hear more if you stay open and interested — but not prying. This gives you a clear picture of the struggles they might be dealing with or insights into possible problems that might arise.

 

  1. Participate in TRAIN UP: There is an alarming outcry by many mental health organizations over the sudden surge in reported cases among teenagers. If nothing is done about this, the future of our society is in jeopardy. TRAIN-UP is a capacity-building exposure that unveils unconventional but foolproof strategies for adolescent engagement in the 21st-century technology-driven social space by equipping Parents, Teachers, Administrators and Counsellors (PTAC) with tools for creative adolescent management. We designed TRAIN UP as a free resource to ensure that all parents have access to cutting edge knowledge for unconventional parenting in the 21st century. In this course, you learn how to create a psychologically safe haven for your children especially adolescents among others.

 

  1. Validate their feelings. It is often our weakness as parents to try to solve problems for our teens and adolescents or to downplay their disappointments. But saying something like “She wasn’t right for you anyway” after a romantic disappointment can feel dismissive. Instead, show them that you understand and empathize by reflecting the comment back: “Wow, that does sound difficult.” And if possible share your heartbreak experience(s) and how you dealt with it (them) without outrightly telling them what to do or not.

  1.  Be Trustworthy: Yes that simple. Be worthy of being trusted! It is often easier for an adolescent to listen to another adult who they feel is on their side even if that adult is passing across the same message their parents have been trying to pass across for months to no avail. I know right?! If you recall your adolescence, it should come very clear to you how you would rather listen to another adult you trust and respect over your parents even though they were both saying the same thing. What’s the difference? Adolescents are emotional creatures. It means, to transmit instructions and values to them, you must target their emotional core. Many parents find this difficult because we have been wired to parent conventionally. We are in unconventional times, it will take an unconventional means to target your adolescent’s emotional core. You child will remain emotionally receptive to any adult who targets this core. Unfortunately, our teenagers many times believe that we [parents] are not on their side. It is one of the perks of conventional parenting and also a major reason that parenting teenagers seem tough! While it is very tempting to want to make them ‘understand’ why they act the way they do or to show them scientific reports on what’s ‘wrong’ with them, it’s best you place them in the hands of professionals who can in partnership with you, guide them.

 

 

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