Girl Talk

Does the thought of discussing puberty with your growing little girl make you flinch? A Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated OB/GYN and Girlology instructor is here to help  

Girl moms and dads: Pay attention to your daughter’s shoes. Yep, fast-growing arms, hands, legs and feet are a first signpost that puberty is on the horizon. Aside from going shoe shopping, have you considered how or when you’ll broach the complex—perhaps intimidating—topic of puberty with your child? 

“It’s ideal to start the conversation around age 8,” says Dr. Jennifer Fisher, a Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated OB/GYN. “Puberty can be a frightening, out-of-control time, but when girls know what’s coming, they can feel more confident and less overwhelmed when the changes start.”

All humans go through puberty to become reproductive adults. Physical and sexual development appears alongside cognitive, emotional and social changes. According to the National Institutes of Health, girls typically start puberty between ages 8 and 12 and boys between ages 9 and 14. 

“To help prepare your daughter, it’s important to discuss practical topics like menstruation, breast development, hygiene and acne,” says Dr. Fisher. “Equally important is talking about more big-picture concepts like responsibility, sexuality, confidence, consent and relationships.” 

If you want backup, there’s a resource that can help. Girlology is a doctor-led platform that educates girls and their caregivers about what to expect during puberty. In-person classes and on-demand digital content—like blog posts, videos and e-courses—cover the topics above and many others. “Girls get reassurance that what they’re going through is normal and that they’re not alone,” says Dr. Fisher, who is a Girlology instructor. 

Dr. Fisher’s biggest piece of advice for talking puberty with your child? “Keep the lines of communication open.” Have age-appropriate conversations early and often, use correct body terminology from the start and try to stay calm. “You may not have objective coolness,” she says, “but if you don’t freak out, your child is more likely to feel they can always come to you with questions or concerns.” —Kimberly L. Riggs

Change Is A-Coming!

Puberty is a whirlwind, with nonstop physical changes. Here’s a breakdown of the various phases—known as the Tanner Stages—of puberty for girls:

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Photographs by (mom & daughter) Alena Girlology photograph courtesy of Girlology.