Precocious or early-onset puberty is on the rise in both boys and girls. One preliminary study done in the first six months of the pandemic suggests an increase of precocious puberty cases in girls during the lockdown. Could stress be a trigger? Pandemic or not, caregivers need to be better equipped to talk about and prepare a child with information and support during this period of transition which can be physically and emotionally difficult.
Read this narrative from a mother, Shwetha, about how she found out her almost 10-year-old is going through pre-puberty and a first-hand account of a 10-year-old girl, Zoey, who is bravely sharing her story with us.
“Amongst the different peripheral challenges that the pandemic has posed, puberty (more pronounced for young girls), is beginning to gain attention. As a parent of an almost 10-year-old child with food allergies, the past year has been very stressful. Lack of movement and physical activity, virtual school, isolation, stress eating, etc are some of the obvious offenders affecting the mental and physical well-being of kids but throw in pre-puberty/puberty hormones, it is a perfect storm in a teacup situation.
For my daughter, her allergies were out of control and we went through the myriad of tests and doctor visits ( all virtual) to understand what is causing this allergy storm. A family doctor in India, an experienced gynecologist, pointed out the elephant in the room, pre-puberty hormones. Then it dawned on me as a parent that, what typically is a very stressful physical, physiological and emotional transformation has been magnified by the pandemic.
Acknowledging this inevitable metamorphosis has helped my husband and I mentally adjust a little for the situation and perhaps prepare for the "dreaded talk" ( which my husband has happily outsourced to me).
Around the same time, a very close family friend's daughter began menarche and highlighted how a lot of families are having to deal with the puberty of their children amongst this ranging pandemic. By sharing experiences, raising awareness, and encouraging conversation, it might help families deal with another thing on their plate as we move out of this pandemic.”
Read on for a personal journey of a little girl as she experienced one of life's biggest metamorphoses in isolation like a true champ.
“For me, Puberty and Adolescence are difficult, from pain to emotions. It is not easy to go through, but everyone has to go through it at one time or the other.
I tend to feel sad, angry, lost, and not myself. Dealing with this for me is challenging, and pretty difficult. It may not be like this for you but it has been my experience.
As I turned a bit older than 9, I hit puberty. At first, it was not recognizable, but soon I could feel it. That was also the time where Covid lockdown was on. I was always down and sad.
Another year around the sun and it has become really, really challenging. At that time I started my menstrual cycle and I had severe pain. For some people, they hit Puberty and Adolescence later in life. My friends and my twin will hit them later in life. I feel like the only different person in the place.
Some places that helped me learn more about what was going on were my parents, doctor, and BrainPop.
I have discovered some ways that I use to deal with the pain and take my head away from it. Here is a shortlist:
1. Reading- It puts my head on a new topic and item….
2. Roller skating- When I do it, it just feels relaxing and makes me happy!
3. Making Google slides presentations- I love editing slideshows and exploring them!
4. Writing stories - It requires thinking, which takes my head away from pain.
Parents and Siblings:
Siblings and parents are a great help during puberty. They can help you in many different ways, for example when you are feeling down or sad they can help you cheer up by playing a game with you. On many occasions when you are in the middle of adolescence, you may not want to be with anyone but just be alone.
Parents can help you in a way, but you can help them understand what you feel. You can tell them your thoughts or anything on your mind. In the case of siblings, you may not feel comfortable telling them so you can play games with them.
From a sibling’s view: (what siblings can do to help):
It can be hard for you to watch your brother or sister go through it. If they want to be left alone, I suggest you leave them alone and not bug them. Check on them and try to help whenever they ask for help
Everyone is different:
Everyone starts puberty at a different time. For me, as I stated above, I hit puberty early. My close friends and my sister will hit it later.
Some tips to people who are just starting and are older than usual for starting puberty and people who have not started and have friends and family who are already started puberty:
1. Everybody is different, if your best friend is already deep into puberty and you have just started that is A-Ok. You have to just live life normally because everybody is different and trust me there are a lot of people to start later than studies show.
2. If you are older and you are now starting your puberty, you might feel different. Your friends might be the same age but more older in looks, that may happen but if so then take a deep breath and go on with life because you are going to have people who are at the same pace as you in puberty.
3. In general puberty is hard whether you are starting it or ending it because you might be all old and sophisticated and your friend just starting is younger-looking and not sophisticated. You might feel lonely (I do sometimes). Push through it strongly and you will make it!
How schools can help:
Schools can help you in quite a few ways. One thing that would help is if schools trained teachers and counselors on how to talk about puberty and adolescence. Like how if they are in pain and how to treat it in a way. It can help if schools can educate the students about it earlier, my school only educates in 5th grade.
How to deal with being the different one?
It can be hard being different because you are not like each other.
It may be a feeling almost like peer pressure, but not exactly.
Sometimes when you are feeling like the different one, you can try and find something you have in common with your friend.
In a way, Puberty and Adolescence are exciting because you are becoming an adult but in the painful and the mood swing ways it is hard. Either way, you have to push through it. For me, as I stated earlier, I got my menstrual cycle at the age of 10 which is very tough because I have very very severe cramps and back pain.
Every girl has to go through this at one time or the other, it will be challenging. You will be down at many points in time but you gotta push through it. I hope my views help you in the process whether you are about to go through it, or know someone close who is going through it and how you can help."
Thank you, Zoey Doshi and Shwetha Shrivatsa for sharing your experiences with us and our readers.
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