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What is Delayed Puberty and How Can I Help My Tween?

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Melancholy
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Question: What is Delayed Puberty and How Can I Help My Tween?
Answer: Puberty is a tough time for tweens, but it can be even more upsetting to a tween when all of her friends have developed but she hasn't. Delayed puberty can present a variety of challenges to both child and parent.

A child who experiences delayed puberty may think that something is wrong with him or her, and if a classmate makes a negative comment, that could cause additional stress and concern. If your tween hits puberty late as compared with his or her peers, or if their physical development is slow to start, you'll have to be supportive.

What is Delayed Puberty?

Delayed puberty is when puberty begins later in a child's development than is typical. It's not uncommon for girls to develop as late as age 13 or 14. Boys may also experience the beginnings of puberty at age 14 or 15. If your child hasn't yet shown the signs of puberty by age 14 for girls or 15 for boys, it could be because of delayed puberty. Keep in mind that delayed puberty can run in families. If your child's puberty is delayed it could be that you or other members of your family also experienced delayed puberty.

Delayed puberty can also be caused by a variety of physical conditions including malnutrition, thyroid or hormonal conditions, or chronic diseases, such as diabetes. If you're concerned about your child's delayed puberty, contact your family pediatrician for a work-up and consultation.

Most of the time delayed puberty means that your tween will have to be patient. If you have a tween daughter who is stressing about her delayed puberty, reassure her that everyone develops in their own time, and that her body will change when it's ready. Help her adjust by taking her out to buy a training bra, even if she doesn't need it, and other clothes girls her age wear.

You might also think about finding a book for your daughter that explains puberty, menstruation, and other changes.

You can also help your tween prepare for changes by instructing him on basic tween and teen hygiene. Allow your child to use deodorant even if he doesn't yet need it, and instruct him on how to properly care for his skin to prevent breakouts.

Take the time to show your tween how to shave so he'll be prepared when the time comes. This will make him feel as though change is just around the corner, and that he knows as much as his peers about growing up.

This stage will pass, and when it does your tween will forget all about present concerns and anxieties.

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