Parents often spend lots of time thinking about what might happen when their child is entering puberty (prepuberty) such as impulsive behaviors like reckless driving, unsafe sex, using stimulants such as alcohol and drugs. To prevent this and prepare your child for healthier puberty, the pre-puberty stage also needs special attention.
Adolescence usually falls between the ages of 8, 9 and 12 years – a time when there are big changes in your child’s physical, cognitive and emotional development. It is a stage where children are developing independence, starting to share less with their parents and rely more on friends, but they still need the support and guidance of their parents. To be able to help, you need to know the signs that your child is about to enter puberty, from the inside out.
Pre-puberty – Physical changes
Before puberty, your teens will show some signs of becoming stronger as their muscle mass increases. The hair may be darker. The color and texture of a child’s skin gradually change, becoming more like that of an adult’s skin. Physical skills – both in strength and coordination – have been improved.
Gender traits begin to appear:
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- Chest begins to develop.
- Experience first period.
- The testicles and penis increase in size.
- Lower voice.
- Muscle gains.
Both sexes are more likely to get acne and develop genital hair growth.
Pre-puberty – Awareness changes
In addition to physical development, adolescence offers new ways of thinking. As your child develops cognitively, they begin to be more powerful in reasoning and can think of things logically.
Puberty brain development is particularly important. Areas of the brain that allow calculating risks and rewards develop significantly during this period. Your child also gains the ability to think more effectively due to changes in the brain’s myelin and synapses.
In the period of preparing to enter puberty, children mainly use reason to do their homework at school and home. They begin to express their views on activities they want to participate in and choose their own goals. Later on, puberty is a complete change in thinking when children begin to be highly aware of their views and everyone around them.
Prepuberty – Emotional changes
Children can respond quickly to emotions but have difficulty regulating them because regional development in the brain that works to regulate emotions develops more slowly. At this time, children are learning about how to interpret other people’s feelings and even their own feelings.
This will be a difficult time for parents as your child will become erratic suddenly. With the changes happening, children are more sensitive to their own feelings and that of others. They can shift from being blissful and carefree to being overly concerned with what other children think of them, feeling abandoned and comparing themselves to their peers. Extreme emotional changes are normal. Today could be “You are my best friend” and the next day could be “You are no longer my friend.”
During these chaotic times, children often turn to their friends for emotional support. Your children start to have more conflicts with their parents until the late teens, however, they still need parental support and guidance.
How can parents help their children better prepare for puberty?
You should initiate positive conversations with your child about their upcoming physical, cognitive and emotional changes, what will happen and what they mean. Let your child understand that changes are normal and that you are there to help whenever they need it.
However, at this point it is normal for your child to be afraid to share and need privacy. You should also consider the situation where your child will sometimes be overly concerned about his or her appearance and may have body image problems. There have been many cases where boys abuse stimulants to make muscles develop faster. As a result, many parents use content filtering tools to hide pictures/videos that are age-inappropriate for their child and to notify them when their children find information about substances to prompt conversations and measures.