It’s normal to feel anxiety rising when you look at your daughter and realize she’s moving quickly through childhood toward puberty. Maybe one of her friends is developing, or maybe she tosses out some attitude that feels unfamiliar and prickly. Or maybe, she just put on her bathing suit for the first time this year and omg, what has been going on under those bulky winter clothes?
There’s no reason to panic, but there are lots of good reasons to prepare – yourself first, THEN, your girl.
Part of helping our daughters navigate puberty and adolescence with confidence and knowledge is to do our own work. Here's the assignment:
1. Shift parenting gears.
Parenting toddlers and young children requires a lot of physical stamina. It can be exhausting to constantly scan the physical environment for hazards, keep her entertained with developmentally-beneficial activities, schedule and supervise playdates, answer all her questions. As you shift toward parenting pre-teens and teens, it's physically easier, but requires a ton more mental energy. Instead of watching HER every move, you have to start watching YOUR OWN thoughts, judgments, and responses, all while encouraging her to be more independent, advocate for her needs, learn from her mistakes, and think about her future. The most useful skills for parenting tweens and teens become staying calm, responding with curiosity instead of judgment, modeling healthy relationships, and being generous with opportunities to problem solve instead of doing all the problem solving for her.
2. Prepare her without overwhelming her.
You've spent her whole life preparing her for what's ahead, whether it was her her first day of school or her daily routine to get ready for bed. You know she does better when she knows what to expect and hears your reassurances that make it less scary or overwhelming. She needs the same things as she heads into puberty. What's next for her body? When will it happen? How can she care for it? What can she do to manage her big feelings? Believe it or not, preparing her for puberty and adolescence is no different than preparing her for anything else in her life, and you're the best one to help her feel ready.
3. Learn strategies that support and nurture the ever-changing emotional and mental health landscape of a budding adolescent.
Every generation of adolescents has faced trends and cultural influences that threaten their mental health. Today, those challenges are bigger than ever as evidenced by the current mental health crisis among teens – girls especially. Parenting through puberty is tough, but it's best when YOU feel supported with accessible, relatable resources and expert guides. If we want to shift the current tide of declining mental health among girls, we have to focus on prevention. Since over half of all mental health disorders among adults begin by age 14, puberty is the perfect time for our preventative efforts.
Great. but HOW do you DO all of that?
It depends on where this journey is starting for you (and her).
If you’re here early in the game, my best advice is download our free ebook, Be Her Best Guide (a Pre-Puberty Guide for Proactive Parents). It will start you on the right path with preparation tips, facts, how-to advice, and answers to common questions.
If puberty is already underway in your home, then I invite you to join our community to check out our other content. We offer hundreds of tips & discussions for parents and engaging classes for girls through every age and stage of puberty and adolescence; and I promise, you’re not too late to start.
We know it takes a village, and as physicians dedicated to girls’ health and wellness, and moms of daughters, our passion is to empower girls and the people who care for them with accurate and helpful health & wellness information that helps grow their confidence.
Did you know Girlology has grade-by-grade playlists listing on-demand video and downloadable content to support her and you through the entire journey? Learn More