So, your perfect little girl is suddenly experiencing massive emotional outbursts and you’re looking at her thinking – who is this person!?
Could she have PMT!?
Typically, puberty starts to commence after a girls 8th birthday. This does not necessarily mean she is about to start her periods but what it does mean is that changes are starting to happen, and these are all to do with the HORMONES!!!
The brain starts to release the hormones GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) needed for puberty. It also stimulates other glands in the body to produce and release the hormoneS LH (luteinising hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone).
In girls, the hormones go to the ovaries and trigger the maturation and release of eggs. They also produce oestrogen.
Oestrogen is needed to prepare the body for pregnancy.
WTF!!??? She’s only 9!!!
As a Mum to an 8-year-old I find this as shocking as you. Just remember these initial changes are just to allow your gorgeous little poppet to grow and we can’t keep them small forever! (Boohoo!!!).
Please do not panic these changes are relatively slow to begin but can have an impact on the emotions – I mean there’s a lot going on!
At the same time (as the oestrogen) the adrenals glands (tiny glands on the kidney’s) get involved and stimulate the hormone needed for pubic hair.
In girls, the initial physical changes are a gain in extra fat, a change in the breasts and some hair – down there!!!
All the above generally takes a good couple of years before the periods arrive and in some it can take a lot longer! It is definitely now more common for girls to start their periods earlier (I cold write an entire book about this one!!!) but for some it can be as late as 16 years old!
If you started your periods early, chances are your daughter will too!
So, the age range for starting periods (this is considered to be the normal range) is age 9 to 16 years.
All of these changes do have some emotional consequences.
Before we look at those let’s consider other factors that may impact a child’s emotional state
• Sleep – a lot of growing is going on and children still need a fair amount of sleep, even extra during this phase. It’s easy to let bedtime slip later but is your daughter getting enough sleep!? Girls of this age still need around 10-11 hours a night. We all know that being tired directly affects our mood.
• Diet – food affects mood and also has a direct impact on hormones! We need certain hormones to balance excess sugar, fats in the body produce their own hormones and a lack of key minerals (especially magnesium) will contribute to mood and behaviour. Write a food diary and see how much sugar/carbs your child is eating, are they getting enough essential fats, are they eating sufficient vegetables and good quality protein. Protein is vital for growth. We also know that the centre of the emotions is in the gut. The gut needs fibre to function properly and also the right bacteria. This is a big subject (a blog for another day) but writing a food diary will definitely give you a good insight. and of course if you need help with this, just get in touch with me HERE.
• Stress – the adrenals glands also produce sex hormones. The problem here is that when they are having to produce a stress response, they cannot fully balance the sex hormones. Stress release also impacts the thyroid and blood sugars so another to factor in here, is your child under stress!? How are the friendships at school, home environment, tests, screen time (so much I could say here!!) and any number of triggers!? Simply teaching your child some breathing techniques can help to switch them out of fight and flight!
What to do!
If your 9 year has turned in to teenager, then first of all have a conversation about puberty (I know right!!!!). There are changes happening in the body and your child may not even understand why they are acting this way. Talking about it helps!
Look at the diet, sleep and stress. This may surprise you.
By looking at these areas and changing a few things you can really help support the hormones and the growth phase. Sugar is a key one!
If you want to check if your daughter has any nutritional deficiencies, then you could do a super easy test to check. You can find details HERE.
I can appreciate it can be really tough to see your daughter change so dramatically! There are chemical changes happening in your daughter’s body and unfortunately it is completely normal for the emotions to get involved.
I do feel for you if you are also going through hormonal changes yourself (menopause stuff – more to come on this…). It is certainly not easy to deal with so many hormones and emotions in one house!
Your daughter may also be in sync with you when you have your period, this is very common! So, remember how you feel when your hormones are running your body, and how certain things you do, eat or drink can aggravate this!
Write a diary to track your child’s moods and see if there is a pattern. This can be so helpful in understanding what is going on.
Then you just have to accept the changes and support her as only a Mum knows how!
Good luck, I’m right behind you!!!