Puberty is a natural process that marks the onset of sexual maturity in both males and females. The most common symptoms of puberty can vary between males and females, but there are some general changes that are typical for both genders. Here are some of the most common symptoms of puberty:
- Breast development
- Growth spurt
- Appearance of pubic hair and underarm hair
- Increased sweating
- Growth spurt
- Enlargement of the testicles and penis
- Appearance of pubic, facial, and body hair
- Deepening of the voice
- Increased sweating
Puberty can also have a significant impact on a person’s mind and mental health. The hormonal changes that occur during puberty can affect brain development, mood, and behaviour. Here are some ways in which puberty can impact mental health:
- Emotional Changes: Hormonal changes during puberty can cause a rollercoaster of emotions, including increased sensitivity, mood swings, and irritability. Adolescents may experience intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or anger, which can be challenging to manage.
- Self-esteem and body image: Adolescents may experience changes in their body shape, size, and appearance, which can affect their self-esteem and body image. Some may feel self-conscious or embarrassed about their developing bodies, leading to feelings of insecurity and low self-worth.
- Social Relationships: Adolescents may experience changes in their social relationships as they navigate new social dynamics, which can cause feelings of isolation, loneliness, or rejection. These issues are further compounded by the limits in social interaction during the various periods of COVID-related restrictions.
- Mental Health Disorders: Adolescents going through puberty may be at increased risk for developing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse.
As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to be supportive and understanding during this time of significant physical, emotional, and social changes for children. Here are some tips for dealing with children in puberty:
- Provide open and accurate information: It’s important to provide children with accurate information about puberty, including how their bodies are changing and what to expect. This can help them feel more prepared and less anxious, and can help normalize their experiences and reduce feelings of shame or embarrassment.
- Listen and validate: Puberty can be a confusing and emotional time for children. It’s important to listen to their concerns and validate their feelings. Let them know that what they’re experiencing is normal and that you’re there to support them. This will help young people feel heard, validated, and supported.
- Respect their privacy: As children’s bodies are changing, they may become more self-conscious and want more privacy. It’s important to respect their boundaries and give them space when they need it.
- Set clear boundaries: As children become more independent, it’s important to set clear boundaries and expectations. This can help them feel safe and secure, while also giving them room to explore and grow, within fair limits.
- Encourage healthy habits: Puberty is a time when children are forming habits that can last a lifetime. Encourage healthy habits, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, good sleep habits, personal hygiene, and stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness or yoga.
- Encourage positive social support: Encourage adolescents to engage in positive social support, such as spending time with friends, participating in extracurricular activities, or joining a peer support group. This can help young people feel connected, valued, and supported during this transitional period.
- Be patient: Puberty can be a challenging time for both children and parents. It’s important to be patient and understanding, and to give children the time and space they need to navigate this transition.
- Seek professional help: If an adolescent is experiencing persistent or severe mental health symptoms, seek professional help from a healthcare provider, counselor, or therapist. They can provide support and guidance for managing mental health challenges.
It is important to note that the timing and pace of puberty can vary widely between individuals, and some of these symptoms may appear earlier or later than usual. It is also possible for some individuals to experience certain symptoms to a greater or lesser degree than others. Every child is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with puberty. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, behavior or emotions during this time, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider or mental health professional. They can provide additional support and guidance to help your child through this transition.