On Early Puberty

Posted On: August 9, 2010

Extracted from the book ‘Early Puberty in Girls’ by Paul Kapolowitz

When Laura was 9 ½, she came to her grandmother one evening with blood on her panties. She was told that her periods had started and that it happens to everyone, but she was just a bit earlier than most. Laura began to cry and said, “I really don’t want this.” Her grandmother went out to find some pads and a while later brought home five different kinds to make sure that one would be right for Laura. When she returned, she was surprised to find that Laura had prepared a party for her and her grandfather, and told them, “Now I understand that this is a day for rejoicing, not for crying.” Since then, Laura has been managing her periods very well and quickly gotten used to wearing pads. At first she told her grandmother as soon as they started, but after a few months, she waited three days before telling her, and then announced, “I just wanted to let you know that I could handle it.” I asked Laura’s grandmother how things were going at school. Laura was the first in her class to start having periods, but another girl started a few months later. By this time, her breasts had developed to the point that they were easily noticed, and one girl remarked to her, “You’ve really got yourself some big boobs.”

Laura replied without embarrassment, “Your day will come.” The grandmother helped out in class from time to time, and several parents commented to her that they couldn’t believe how much Laura had developed; one remarked that she just dreaded that this was going to happen to her daughter too. When I asked the grandmother why she thinks Laura adjusted so well, she said “A lot depends on how the parents accept it and present it to the child.”

This case illustrates that in a supportive family environment, many girls who start puberty at an age that in the past was clearly considered precocious will manage fine without treatment. The calmer and more reassuring the parents can be, the more likely it is that the young girl will adjust to early breast developments and early periods. I suspect that in situations like this, some parents who are very anxious to start the injections are worried as much about how they will cope as they are about how their daughter will cope. Of course, every family situation is unique, and there are certainly girls who are more withdrawn and less mature than Laura was, who would have a very difficult time handling periods at age 9 ½ with the grace Laura showed.


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