From Boys to Men And Girls To Women

February 12th, 2013 posted by Jacky Martin


Ah, puberty… the dreaded word rears its ugly head! I think that most of us look back on puberty as a particularly trying time in our lives, and I am sure our parents would agree wholeheartedly with that assessment-only from their point of view as to the hell that we put THEM through! Alas, puberty can strike earlier in the 90’s than it did “back in the day” when we went through it. Reports that I have read concerning this issue indicate that puberty begins in some children as early as eight years of age. Thankfully, those instances are not the norm.

However, by the age of 10, we begin to see some inklings of the growing up process. For instance, in general, both boys and girls exhibit an increase in appetite. Sleep schedules become topsy-turvy. Early adolescence brings with it a need for more sleep, as well as a tendency to be sleepy at “getting up for school time.” As a statement of maturity, the early adolescent will want to stay up later at night; however, this also is a physical change. The internal clock is shifting toward adult norms and away from kiddie waking up and going to bed routines. Also common to both boys and girls is a general clash between the values that we have tried to instill as parents and the “rad” thing on TV.

Approval of peers begins to take precedence over approval of parents and their world begins to shift away from the family center. Although this is sometimes frightening, it is quite healthy. We want our children to become independent and to think for themselves. Biting our tongues at this stage of the growing up process is a must. We as parents must pick our battles carefully, choosing only those which will harm or otherwise injure our children physically or mentally. Believe me, if we have done our job, they will come back to our viewpoint, albeit not before they have brought many gray hairs to our heads! Characteristics of early puberty specific to boys include: clumsiness (feet haven’t grown into their bodies yet); aggressiveness (that testosterone thing again); boisterousness (covering up for the feet growing into their bodies issue); and filthy little pigs-getting them into the shower is like preparing for World War III.

Don’t worry about the lack of cleanliness at this stage, however. It won’t be long before you won’t be able to get them OUT of the bathroom! Boys also become secretive, clamming up around the house as if they really have something to hide. Sometimes they do, but mostly, they are having grown-up thoughts that they find it difficult to express. They are afraid to ask at home about things; it isn’t cool to ask their friends, so they are at a loss as to how to express themselves. Communication is a major issue though. Being open and receptive to your children at all times is a biggie, whether or not you have had a hard day, no matter what else is going on in your life. Turning them away or brushing them off will cause more problems than you want to deal with, believe me, so please listen. And listening means not talking! Really! If there is one thing that I can’t stress enough in my dealings with families, it is to listen.

Characteristics specific to girls during the early adolescent stage of puberty include giggling! Probably more of it than you want to handle, but try to ignore it. I promise you that this stage does not last forever! Girls also talk a lot, but don’t communicate their thoughts. Again, listen! Eventually, you will find the thread to the conversation and it is probably important! Girls also develop crushes on older men, usually teachers or some other influential figure in their lives. They are interested in romance and begin to exhibit more interest in the kissing scenes in movies (although they will probably giggle).

Girls also love playacting at this stage and will daydream constantly. If you haven’t already had “the talk” with your children, guess what! It’s time!! Actually, it is past time-“the talk” is much more effective if it has progressed naturally throughout the years. However, this will be addressed the next time that we get together. If you have a specific and/or urgent question regarding this stage of puberty, please feel free to e-mail me. It may take me a day or two to get back to you, but I promise to answer. Until next month, enjoy! In the blink of an eye, they will be grown and gone and then, whatever will we complain about?

Jacky Martin (2 Posts)

Jacky Martin is an education for parenting director at two parishes in the Archdiocese of New York. The programs involve parenting at all life stages, including parents of adults.

She is a single mother who lives in the Poconos, PA with her three children. Jacky is also a representative for Usborne Books at Home and Avon Products.  She invites anyone to e-mail her for information, either about Usborne Books, Avon or about individual parenting issues that may be of concern.

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