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How To Be A Good Parent To A Girl Transitioning Into Adolescence

Posted: July 15, 2019

Adolescence is defined as a transmutation interval between childhood and adulthood. The primary function of adolescence is to prepare the child for adult responsibility. The process involves multiple vicissitudes which may involve education, indoctrination as well as adaption from one living environment to another. The children during this adolescence are addressed as teenagers.

While adolescence in boys requires a separate discourse which can be explained later; this essay deals with Puberty in Adolescent females. The first development to be noticed is that maximum increase in height and weight happens during this period. It is the time for growth squirts and puberty development. The teenager feels a sudden growth in several inches within a couple of months followed by a period of measured growth. The growth stops for the time being only to spurt after few months. The bodily changes take place moderately and sundry manifestations may become discernable at the same time. The rate of changes occurs in great dissimilitude resulting in some experiencing the signs of pubescence sooner or later than her peers. The physical and emotional changes of being bigger and smaller happen at different times for everyone resulting in each girl experiencing adolescence at her own time.

The hormones undergo massive changes thus ensuring sexual and other physical maturation. The pubertal changes in girls start much earlier when compared to boys and as mentioned above the changes take place at its own pace. There are discrete stages of development a girl goes through when developing secondary sexual attributes. The initial pubescence change in a girl is the development of breast bud. A small heap is formed near the breast elevating it and the nipple. The areola simultaneously increases in size along with the enlargement of the breast and nipples. There is growth of pubic hair in a small area around the genitals. Initially short, the hair gradually becomes long, darker and shaggy and continues to spread. It appears like adult hair and may spread to the thighs and stomach. However as mentioned above one should keep in mind that pubic hair occupies only a small area.

The following are ancillary physical developments that may occur to the girl as she experiences the changes of puberty:

Increase in hair growth

The growth is not only limited to the pubic area, but it develops also under the arms and on the legs. Many women later prefer shaving of these hairs and it is also advised so in terms of cleanliness from medical point of view.

Change in body shape

In addition to the increase in height and weight the hips too get wider. There may be accumulation of fats in the stomach, buttocks and legs. This change is also normal.

Increase in body size

As cited earlier she will grow taller/bigger in size with feet, arms legs and hands increasing in size simultaneously. The adolescent girl develops shyness and also might feel awkward.

Acne bursts/Sunburns

The hormonal changes tend to make the skin greasy. The face may look oily and sweaty as a result causing pimples/acne on the face. It is therefore recommended to use a good quality face wash for riddance of the oily nature and prevention of these acne sprouts. Also some females may have sun allergy resulting in itchy patches on neck, hands and face. It is mandatory to use sunscreen while she is outdoors.

Menstruation

Considered difficult among all the other progress the girl matures to a full blown woman when she menstruates. The development of egg take place in the ovaries and each month the uterus prepares itself for an egg to fertilize with a male sperm which we call pregnancy. During puberty chances of pregnancy are nil (unless there are certain misfortunes). The egg is not fertilized, thus leading to shedding/discharge of the eggs and endometrial lining of uterus through the vagina. The discharges are bloody and happen every month which we call as menstruation or periods.

The teenager not only experiences physical changes but also undergoes emotional changes. The girls during these growing years experience the aptness to think theoretically and ultimately start making plans and set career goals. She may develop interest in philosophy of life, politics and social affairs. A sense of comparing oneself with her peer also develops during this transition period. I once again reiterate that the progress take place at different rates and one must not compare growth of one’s child with another.

Further studies have revealed that it is during this adolescent period the girl becomes more vulnerable as compared to boys. Child Mind Institute states that anxiety and depression occur in both genders, but by the teenage years, girls are much more at risk than boys. Before puberty, the prevalence of mood disorders is about the same in boys and girls—3 to 5 percent. But by mid-adolescence girls are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder as boys, with the prevalence at adult levels, 14 to 20 percent. Why such a big incongruity in mood disorders? Looking at brain scans revealed that there are differences in the way girls and boys process emotional stimuli. Girls mature, in terms of their emotional recognition, faster than boys—and that sensitivity could make them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

Several changes occur when the girl steps into her adolescent years. She might voice for independence and seek freedom from parents. Companions leverage, approval and relationship are very important. The girl may be in love with someone or may have long term allegiance in any alliance.

While good parenting is a tough task parents must ensure that they maintain healthy relationship with the growing child. Below are few tips on how to raise a teenage girl:

  1. Don’t take difficult behavior personally.
  2. Establish ground rules and boundaries.
  3. Communicate
  4. Be compassionate.
  5. Focus on the positive.
  6. Let them take healthy risks.
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  8. Compromise
  9. Practice unconditional love
  10. Don’t be afraid to seek help.

In closure, I say we adults should stop thinking that the adolescent child is puerile and is dependent on us. No. While it is good to protect our girls we should also be invigorating them to live life on their own terms. Give them independence. Show them the right path but do not be over possessive. It will not only spoil the relationship with your child but you will also be robbing her of her self esteem. Let her grow on her own.  Let her face the harsh realities of life and solve the problems herself. Be a guiding star to her and not a suffocating parent.

Image is a still from the web series Riverdale

Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of

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