Jeeya was gleefully playing when Emmy screamed “Look the blood, it’s down your thighs”. All of a sudden the two children were surrounded by their classmates. All were curious. Jeeya felt helpless. Her little feet had droplets of blood somewhat maroon shade. She felt she had been bitten by some bug. There was a knot in her stomach too. All she needed was her parents. Little did she know or could understand that she was now a full grown woman!
Jeeya’s story is not an unique one. Many kids of her age go through the same experience daily. And thanks to all the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) present in food stuff for early menarche. These chemicals are ubiquitous in our environment, and are considered by scientists to be a significant public health concern. Although EDCs are thought to pose a threat to adults as well, children’s bodies are more sensitive to exposure to exogenous hormones.
Jeeya’s mother had a tough time dealing with the child. From a bawdy child she withdrew herself, she developed a heightened sense of self awareness and she showed signs of insecurity, she thought she was abnormal, she developed acnes. The mother had to take her to the dermatologist.
Australian researchers have found that children who go through early puberty are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. The study from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne has found 21% of girls and 19% of boys go through puberty as young as eight years old. While girls who hit the early puberty suffer from emotional problems; the boys experience more of behavioral problems. The age that teenagers begin puberty has dropped around the world, though doctors are not sure why, they say there’s an awful lot to be known about early puberty. As puberty marks a transition for a whole range of mental health problems, behavioral problems, and problems like self-harm, eating disorders, social digression etc.
Here are a 5 tips for parents to prepare kids for puberty:
1.Preparing for the first event: It’s probably best to avoid “The Talk” about menarche. Instead, try to spread it out into lots of smaller conversations — education about how the human body works, about the body parts. The privates are always a curiosity for kids. Kids reaching puberty should already know what’s going to happen to their bodies. As kids attain menarche early these days, it is advisable to start discussions in steps right from the time they are 9-10 years old, or earlier based on the maturity level.
2. The explanation – Parents need to explain puberty in a positive way. That it’s part of physiological working of the body. And that there is nothing wrong in having periods. Parents must pay attention to the child’s group of friends. There are many good reasons to do so. Sometimes, kids fall prey to misleading information.
3. Love and support – Parents need to love and support their children more than usual when they go through puberty. Studies show that children who have warm relationships with their parents have fewer anxieties and depression. And suggest to parents to never forget to use that old verbal substitute for physical affection that never goes out of style, the “I love you” words.
4. Nutrition and wellbeing – Children’s diets should include a wide variety of natural plant foods as possible including, green vegetables, squashes, corn, carrots, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, avocados, beans, fruits and whole grains. All they require is a healthy, well balanced diet. They should be encouraged to carry on with regular exercises, and normal daily schedule as much as possible.
5. Taking care of hygiene – Parents should list out the good and bad hygiene habits – clearly tell them what is considered good and healthy, and what is bad or unhealthy. Repeat it as many times as possible in different situations.
For all parents who are reading my blog, please remember “The limbic system explodes during puberty, but the prefrontal cortex keeps maturing for another 10 years for it’s a traumatic process which the children can’t realize.”