Helping Your Daughter Through Puberty

Dr Nihara KrauseDr Nihara Krause

All content within this page has been reviewed and endorsed by

Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

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Is it Normal?Strong

During puberty, it can be hard to know what’s “normal” and what’s not. In this article we share some of girls’ most common concerns, with expert advice so you can be sure you’re helping your daughter through puberty in the right way – and seeking support when she needs it.

Woman's hand holding her stomachWoman's hand holding her stomach

1

Heavy, painful periods

No one should suffer excruciatingly bad period pain.

Regular cramps feel like mild to average prolonged pain in the lower abdomen, lower back and even upper legs. They are normal. Our Helping Her Manage PMS And Cramps article is full of useful tips you can share with your daughter.

Severe period pain and extreme cramps are different. They’re the ones that regularly keep her home from school or don’t respond to over-the-counter painkillers.

Period pain statistic image

Between 5-10% of women experience period pain severe enough to disrupt their daily life Source: Women’s Health Concern 2017

They’re most likely to occur on the first day of her period, or just before. They can be caused by an underlying medical problem, or a condition called dysmenorrhea. In these cases, it’s best to consult your doctor.

Women's armpit with hair on itWomen's armpit with hair on it

2

Hair sprouting everywhere!

While most girls expect hair to grow on their arms, legs and pubic area, your daughter might be surprised to find it springing up in other places, too! From upper lips to nipples and chins, it’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s up to her to decide whether she wants to remove it, but there are no rules. You can help by reassuring her that this hair growth is normal, and by discussing the different ways in which she can remove it, if that’s what she wants to do.

Portrait of a girl frowningPortrait of a girl frowning

3

Extreme mood swings

While many of us experience irritability or moodiness during our periods, helping your daughter through puberty means keeping an eye on the extremity of her mood swings.

If she shows five or more of the following symptoms to a worrying degree, she may have a syndrome called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD):

Deep sadness or despair, with possible suicidal thoughts

  • Crying
  • Fatigue
  • Lasting irritability and anger issues
  • Disinterest in daily activities and relationships
  • Low energy
  • Lasting feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Food cravings or binge eating
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling out of control or overwhelmed

Thankfully, PMMD can be managed with treatment so, if you think your daughter may be suffering from it, speak to your GP to get a diagnosis.

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Content 2 columns  4

Spotting between periods

Spotting between periods can be confusing, to say the least.Spotting is light vaginal bleeding that happens between periods. If it’s happening just before or after her usual period, it’s most likely normal. However, if it’s happening often or unpredictably, consider taking her to the doctor.

Girls playing footballGirls playing football

5

Weight gain during puberty

As much as she might not want it to happen, a certain amount of weight gain is normal. Part of helping your daughter through puberty involves providing reassurance that this is natural, because adult women have more body fat than young girls.

However, if she’s gaining a lot of weight, you’ll need to support her in adopting a healthier lifestyle. Rather than focusing on the scales, encourage her to eat well and stay active to keep herself physically (and mentally) fit.

Two girls playing bowlingTwo girls playing bowling

6

Early or Late developer

There’s no ‘right’ time to start puberty, but most girls show the first signs of puberty between that ages of 9 and 13. If she’s experiencing early puberty, read the article Supporting Your Daughter Through Early Or Late Puberty for tips and advice.

If you haven’t noticed any pubertal changes by the age of 13, it’s worth taking your daughter for a check-up. Certainly, if she’s 16 and hasn’t had a period, you should take her to the doctor.

Girl writing in a notebookGirl writing in a notebook

7

Problems making friends

Friendships can be a challenging part of puberty. Your daughter may not be particularly sociable, but if she seems generally happy there’s no need to worry. However, if she finds social situations tough, these tips on how to help your child through puberty can help:

  • Encourage her to plan an activity – like having a sleepover with a friend or playing football in the park.

  • Give your daughter lots of praise for her efforts to help build her self- esteem.

  • If she lacks confidence, help her identify other kids who share similar interests, or suggest she joins a club where she might meet like-minded people.

  • Try not to pressure her about friends or constantly discuss the situation.

A doctor and a girlA doctor and a girl

When to see your GP

There’s no need for your daughter to go to the doctor when she gets her first period. However, you should book an appointment if she:

  • Has severe menstrual cramps or any other extreme pelvic pains
  • Experiences bleeding that is unusually heavy or lasts more than seven days
  • Has vaginal itching, redness, sores, swelling, an unusual odour or discharge
  • Is thinking of becoming sexually active and needs to discuss contraception and safe sex habits
  • Might be pregnant
  • Notices a change in the regularity of her periods after more than a year
  • Experiences frequent urination or a burning sensation when she urinates
  • Has any injury to her pelvic area
  • Has had non-consensual sex or may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease.
Take our Puberty & Period Myths Busted Quiz

Quiz

Puberty & Period myths busted

Read the Always Changing & Growing Up Parents

Parent's Guide

Download our Always Changing & Growing Up Parents Guide for more advice on puberty and periods

Watch Your Menstrual Cycle & PeriodsWatch Your Menstrual Cycle & Periods

The menstrual cycle explained in 3 minutes - Watch the video

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