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Puberty Knowledge - The Signs of Puberty in Preteen Girls

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Teenage girl (14-16) applying makeup in mirror, wearing tiara
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At some point during the tween years, a girl will begin to experience the stages of puberty. Knowing what to look for can ease your mind, and help your tween through these enormous physical and emotional changes. While some of the signs of puberty may take a while to develop, others may appear as if they happened overnight.

Below are some of the more typical signs of puberty in girls. Keep in mind that these stages may appear gradually, and it may take three to four years for your child to cycle through all the phases of puberty. In general, boys will go through puberty at some point between the ages of 9 and 14. Girls may begin between the ages of 8 and 12. Share these signs with your tween daughter, so she knows what to expect. Also, be sure you explain how she might handle her first period if you're not around to help, such as when she's at school or away from home.

Physical Changes

  • Growth Spurts
  • Body shape changes as body fat accumulates around the hips, and thighs, giving girls a curvier shape.
  • Breast development
  • Body odor and skin breakouts due to increased oil gland production.
  • Hair growth in the underarm area, on the legs and in the pubic area.
  • Menstruation begins, typically around the age of 12.

Emotional Changes

  • Mood swings may begin, punctuated with bouts of anger, sadness, and other emotional fluctuations.
  • Romantic feelings and interest in the opposite sex.
  • Anxiety and/or excitement about the changes she is going through.
  • Concerns over increased responsibility, fitting in socially, and separating from her parents.

For more information on tween issues and helping tweens through puberty, middle school and the challenges of growing up, subscribe to the Tween Parenting newsletter.

Note: How a girl may react to the changes she experiences will vary from girl to girl. Some may be excited about puberty, others may wish that things didn't change and that they didn't have to deal with growth spurts, bras, and monthly periods. Be sure to support your child through these changes, and avoid making too much of a big deal of puberty. Also, remind your tween that puberty is a normal part of growing up, and that everyone, including you, has been through it or will go through it one day.
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