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Development Seems to Happen Overnight

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

It is still fun for me to see my patient’s growing up. I saw a 12-year-old girl today and suddenly she is “pubescent”. Why do I act like that is surprising? It really shouldn’t be as this is the normal age to see a young girl developing, but it still amazes me how quickly children change. Boys do the same thing only it is typically a little later. The cute “little” girl at 10 is now looking more like a young lady.

The body changes brought on by hormones follow a fairly typical pattern and if you see it happen in your own child, you too may be astonished at how quickly they can change. I remember one day many years ago that a father of three precious girls told me that he was going to lock his daughters in the closet before the “breast fairy” came. He continued by saying that despite his best efforts and much to his own amazement it seemed to “happen over night.” The closet was never completed and he is now the proud father of two married daughters, two grandsons and a daughter in medical school. How time flies.

The “typical” course of pubertal development for girls begins with breast budding and then progresses through further body changes, a spurt in height over an 18-24 month period and then the beginning of menstrual periods, which is called menarche. This is a process and takes time but it seems to happen in front of your eyes.

There are lots of good books on this topic, so start looking before you even need them. Preparing your daughter for these body changes with good, factual information is one of the most important parenting jobs. Your daughter may not want to discuss puberty, but it is a vital necessity that you as parents do. Remember the fairy, she arrives overnight.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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