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Talks of transitions: Puberty in girls

Talks of transitions: Puberty in girls

Puberty is confusing and challenging for girls. Open conversations with parents help them prepare for this transition
Puberty talks with daughter to prepare them for the transition
Prepare your daughter for puberty

Most parents consider teaching their children to drive or preparing them to get into a university as important milestones. However, they do not place the same level of importance in preparing their daughters for puberty.

“It makes sense that somebody helps you prepare for this natural part of life. When a young person does not know what to expect, they are going to have more anxiety,” says Lori A Reichel, Assistant Professor, State University of New York College, Cortland, USA.

Riechel is a former school health teacher and author of the book ‘Common Questions Children Ask About Puberty’. She shares tools, tips and resources on her podcast and YouTube channel on how parents can talk to their children about the changes that occur during puberty. She says that high school girls like being prepared.

“They feel more prepared when they know what to expect. Talks about their first gynaecology exam, dealing with leaks during periods and using menstrual hygiene products is helpful,” she adds.

Puberty talk: A necessity

Dr Roma Kumar, senior consultant psychologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, says that during puberty the body undergoes several hormonal changes. It can be a confusing and stressful time.

Sometimes girls are embarrassed to talk about the changes because they feel it is unnatural and think they are the only ones experiencing it, she says.

She adds that if parents themselves have insufficient knowledge about puberty, having a conversation about it with their daughters can be challenging. It is important to prepare yourself before talking with your daughter about puberty. “Keep in mind that they are young and impressionable. They mirror a lot of your own beliefs and feelings,” she says.

Changes during puberty

“I think of girls who get their menstrual cycle but have never been told what to do. Some of them think they are dying because they are bleeding. Nobody ever explained that this is a natural process for girls to have. If you start seeing changes in your daughter, definitely start talking,” says Reichel.

“Two weeks before the onset of the menstrual cycle, there is a discharge of slippery fluid. This is completely natural. It indicates when the egg is released from the ovary. Girls should be made aware of this,” says Reichel.

Reichel says there are physical, emotional, social and mental changes that occur in girls going through puberty.

Physical changes

  • Weight gain
  • Growth spurts
  • Onset of the menstrual cycle or menarche (typically starting around 10-13 years of age)
  • Breast development (for some girls, budding of the breasts can sometimes be a little painful, sore or a little itchy)
  • Development and darkening of pubic hair
  • Hair in the underarms
  • Acne and body odour.

Dr K John Vijay Sagar, professor and head, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru points out some other changes:

Emotional changes

  • Mood swings
  • Development of romantic feelings and physical attraction.

Social changes

  • Peer pressure and comparing yourself to your peers
  • Smaller, more well-formed peer groups.

Intellectual changes

  • Psychological maturity
  • More independent and routine activities done with minimal parental support
  • Develop problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking and creative skills.

Priyanka G from Bengaluru, mother of a ten-year-old, says she wants to have the talk with her kid.

“During my childhood talking about puberty and menstruation was considered taboo in my household. I was clueless about the changes I was going through. So, I want to talk with my daughter to prepare her for her first period,” Priyanka tells Happiest Health.

How to start ‘the talk’?

Reichel says that if parents present themselves in a caring and loving way, children will be receptive. A parent must have a conversation about the natural process of growing from a child into a teenager and then an adult.

She adds that one can start the conversation using everyday things. “If a girl sees menstrual products such as pads, tampons, or menstrual cups in the bathroom instead of hiding them, it should be explained that it’s a natural thing for girls and they should be made aware of it,” she says.

Reichel also adds that when the topic of sexual reproduction comes up, they must be made aware of taking safer, healthier decisions.


Girls go through many physical, emotional, social and intellectual changes during puberty. Dr Kumar recommends the following tips for a conversation with your daughter:

  • Have an open, two-way, light-hearted conversation.
  • Don’t avoid questions that make you feel uncomfortable or awkward.
  • Normalise the idea that puberty is a different experience for everyone.
  • Familiarise your daughters with the things they will be needing: sports bra, tampons and pads. Teach them how to use them correctly.
  • Take your daughter out for a fun shopping spree and stock on things she might be needing soon.

Share Your Experience/Comments

6 Responses

  1. Very True, Valuable and Important Point, we parents should do something about this, try to organize small classes for this in our area.

  2. Well said. Parents should interact with children. Better to include this in the school curriculum even

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