Early puberty has various harmful effects on girls, including increased depression and substance abuse risks. While puberty can be challenging for any child, some youngsters are more prone to experiencing difficulties than others.
Children who enter puberty earlier than their classmates may face additional challenges. Although it’s rare, some females begin puberty before age eight, which is considered early for girls. Precocious puberty is the medical term for this. Children who start puberty early should be aware of the following.
How Is Early Puberty Different?
Puberty often begins about age 8 or 9 for girls; however, it can occur at any age. At the age of 12, most American girls begin their menstrual cycle. Around the age of ten or eleven, further signs of puberty begin to emerge. Breast buds and pubic hair are examples of secondary sex features. A female is considered precocious if she reaches puberty before eight.
In recent decades, puberty has begun sooner for many girls, according to research. These populations, including kids from low-income homes and those from historically marginalized groups like Black and Hispanic communities, are particularly vulnerable to this propensity. Being overweight, having high amounts of stress, and being exposed to environmental risks such as hazardous chemicals may all contribute to the early beginning of puberty.
Potentially Unfavorable Results
Early puberty in girls has been extensively researched and reported. Stress, low self-esteem, bullying, and early sexual engagement are just a few negative outcomes that could occur. Short stature and a greater risk of breast cancer may be signs of physical problems later in life.
However, parents of precocious adolescent children can assist their children in learning to deal with or avoid these issues by better understanding why they arise and how to best handle them. Precocious puberty can harm young girls because of the following three main hypotheses.
Overwhelmed and hurried
For a child’s growth to be at its best, some psychologists believe it must follow a specific sequence and timeframe. Children, for example, are said to be ready for the challenges of being a tween or teen when they have experienced particular social, cognitive, and emotional milestones.
Some of the required psychological development of childhood may have been completed when puberty arrived too early, making it difficult for them to adapt.
As a result, girls who enter puberty too early may find themselves unable to cope with the pressures of puberty. There’s a fear that kids won’t be emotionally prepared for all of the adjustments that come with puberty. According to some studies, the “stage termination hypothesis” supports this theory.
Studies have shown that children born early are more vulnerable to stress than their classmates.
Having a Distinction from My Friends
Kids, teens, and tweens have a constant battle when it comes to feeling different from their classmates. It is no wonder that females who reach puberty earlier than their peers compare themselves to others and feel like outcasts.
According to the “deviance theory,” any deviation from a child’s typical developmental timeline is stressful—this explanation. Furthermore, children and adolescents do best when they are in sync with their peers regarding achieving developmental milestones.
Several studies have indicated that teenagers who are both early and late maturing are more stressed than those who are mature at the appropriate period.
As a result, it’s crucial to keep in mind that puberty’s timing is just one factor that can make a child uncomfortable.
Too Many Changes Happening at Once
Some psychologists also believe that the stress of many transitions best explains early puberty in girls. It is claimed that tweens do best when they only deal with one or two major life transitions simultaneously.
For example, a child may be more stressed than their peers if puberty comes early enough to coincide with other major life transitions, such as they move from elementary to middle school. Some research has supported this hypothesis.
The Importance of These Theories
Overall, it’s still not apparent why early puberty has such a detrimental effect on girls. Eventually, scientists will be able to determine which of these hypotheses—or a mix of them—is most likely to explain the phenomenon. This could lead to discoveries about the causes and effects of early puberty, which would be a welcome development.
Because each child’s reaction will be unique, it’s important to keep this in mind. If your child is experiencing precocious puberty, being aware of the obstacles they may face may help alleviate them. As a parent or caretaker, you can keep an eye out for signs of social or emotional distress and be a source of comfort and support.
The best way to help a child going through precocious puberty is to talk to a pediatric healthcare provider about any concerns your child has. The most essential thing you can do for your child is to be there for them when they have questions or worries about puberty or how they are coping with their changing bodies and minds.
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