Adolescence can be a difficult time for both parents and their kids. The teenage years are a stormy period full of intense emotional ups and downs. The hormonal shifts that come with the onset of puberty can mean that a happy, playful little girl can shift to a sullen, moody teenager in what seems like a matter of days.
While it can be trying for parents, it’s important to remember that your daughter is struggling with these new and confusing emotions as well and is most likely feeling distraught. To help guide her through this time, here are four ways you can prepare your pre-teen daughter for puberty and the teenage years.
1. Know the signs of puberty
As a parent, you are responsible for recognizing the signs of puberty. Your daughter will not know what is happening to her so you will be more likely to see the changes beginning. Puberty can start anywhere from 8 to 13 years old, but some milestones are easy to spot.
Physical changes will be the first reliable sign of puberty starting, which will be when you will most likely start having conversations about her changing body with her and what to expect.
2. Support her and bolster her confidence
Physical changes will mean that your daughter will start to focus more on her appearance. This is a normal part of puberty and should be dealt with by increasing your vocal support. Let your daughter know how good she is at sports, how smart she is, or how well she’s doing in school. Reassure her that the things she’s experiencing are normal and acknowledge her pain and discomfort with her altered physical appearance. By reminding your daughter about her skills and attributes beyond her physical looks, you will help balance out the difficulties she may be facing as she enters puberty.
3. Acknowledge that she’s growing up
It can be difficult for some parents to accept that their children are growing up. From the physical changes to their demeanor, you may feel like you’re losing your little girl. However, it’s important for her mental health that you accept, acknowledge, and honor the fact that she’s growing up. Keep lines of communication open so that she feels that her feelings are being recognized, and be rational with her when she complains. You’ll have a hard time getting away with: “Because I said so” when she’s at this stage. Instead, sit down with her and hash out her complaints and issues. If she blows up, know to leave it for a while as she recoups.
When shopping for her, buy gifts for 12-year-old daughter that show that you acknowledge that she’s changing, such as diaries, or gifts that engage her mind.
4. Be the parent
While your daughter might be entering the first stages of growth that will bring her to adulthood, she’s far from an adult yet. Having in place firm guidelines and clear rules will help her deal with her changing feelings and burgeoning autonomy. That being said, it doesn’t always need to be a battle. Your daughter may want more privacy now, which you should strive to give her whenever appropriate. It’s normal for her to want more privacy in her life. So while it may make you sad to realize your daughter no longer wants to share every detail of her life with you, it’s important to give that privacy so that she can feel like she can talk to you when she wants to, as opposed to you forcing her.