Most people know that when girls hit the age of eight or so they seem to grow outward a bit, a bit more rounded. Then poof….they grow several inches and breasts, hips get rounded and they become little ladies rather than staying little kids. These are normal changes for girls, yet we as parents/adults don’t treat them as normal.
We seem to giggle at the pudginess, get exasperated with buying more clothes, talk about how they are growing up too fast - like it is a bad thing. Or sometimes we don’t say anything about it at all, which can be worse.
What we should do and often don’t do, is tell the girls that this is normal. During puberty girls can gain thirty to fifty pounds. Their bodies are getting ready for a change and our body fat needs to increase to hold the estrogen needed. This is a lot of weight in a relatively short period of time. It is hard for us as parents to watch our girls growing up, but it is even more difficult for the girls themselves to live through.
So how can we help our daughters, and ourselves, during this time of growth and transition? Words. Simple words starting when you start to see changes in them, or even before if it comes up in conversation.
“I am in such awe of how beautiful you are becoming.”
“You are growing up, it is a pleasure to watch you become a young lady.”
“That shirt looks nice on you. Maybe we should get a bra to wear under it, for a smoother appearance. What a lady you are becoming.”
“Let’s try another size, you are blossoming!” (Seriously, this line made one of girls smile with pleasure- she loved that I had noticed.)
I am being honest, saying these things are helpful, they may just not seem like it. Remember, the girls will roll their eyes and say things like “You have to say that you are my mom.” Conversation and loving support is always a good thing. Getting Dads to be supportive is a wonderful thing to do as well. They don’t have to talk about bras, but hugs and complements from their father can mean a lot to a young girl.
There are still going to be moments of tears, it is a good chance they will talk about dieting, not liking how they look and of hating themselves. We have to be the voice of reason. Remind them to look around at school, notice the other girls and how they are changing to. Remind them that this is a normal, natural development, but that everyone grows differently and at their own pace. I will give you a link to a great book I reviewed last year about girls and their body image.
And be prepared to spend a bundle on clothes, they will grow out of their pants overnight!