Guiding Girls Through Pre-puberty

Tips to navigate the rollercoaster of changes.


Published:

Often a mom notices her little girl's body odor first. Then the eye rolls, tears and mood swings surface. Though a mom may think her little girl is too young to be going through puberty, there's a stage that comes before the cramps and menstrual cycles; it's called pre-pubescence.

Pre-puberty typically begins in girls between 8 and 9 years old, or three to four years prior to their first period. This transitional stage allows the body to activate hormones and prepare for reproductive capabilities.


The Signs

In addition to acne, outward signs of the internal and external changes include:

Body odor. I refer to body odor as "stinky armpits" to help the girls understand changes that are occurring. Now's the time to reinforce daily showers, deodorant and other hygiene tips.

Hair growth. With an increased desire for privacy, preteens usually don't announce to parents when hair in the armpits and vaginal area sprouts; but hair development is normal during this stage.

Vaginal discharge. A white discharge will appear weeks to months prior to the first period.

Hyper hormones. When girls begin to have periods, their hormones are getting in synch — one goes up, one goes down — and a period is the result of those hormones' cycles. During pre-pubescence, the hormones are active, but not yet in synch. The discombobulated hormones are like ping-pong balls firing away, and the body doesn't know what to do. Sensitive feelings, crying, attitude problems and moodiness can all come into play.

Budding breasts, bellies and hips. Pre-puberty girls don't look like generic little girls anymore. I could line up 100 girls of the same height and weight, and they'd all look extremely different. Milestone changes include budding breasts, widening hips and an occasional bulging belly. Parents might feel anxious about what their daughters look like, and girls feel self-conscious, too. A positive self-image is crucial. One of the most important things parents can do is model healthy eating habits. Make sure a well-rounded, balanced food selection is available. Girls need milk, vegetables, fruit and even carbs!


What to Do

These transitional years are tough for girls. They all want to fit in, but the playing field isn't level — some girls begin pre-puberty and puberty extremely early, others are late-bloomers. There's a big difference between girls in sixth grade and eighth grade. Plus, they're trying to relate to pre-adolescent boys, who still find bathroom humor funny. Combine that with personal trials and modern society, and it's easy to see why our youth need extra assurance and guidance from their parents. Here are some tips to helping pre-pubescent girls along the way:

Get educated. Read about puberty (physical and emotional changes) and also stay abreast of what's going on in the lives of tweens and teens. In addition to staying connected via Charlotte Parent, visit KidsHealth.org. This section has three specific areas for parents, kids and teens. A little review will go a long way.

Have "The Talk" ... many times. In the past, parents would have one big sexuality talk; but I advise parents to have many sex talks, over many years. Give information along the way, and personalize and pace the conversation for your pre-teen.


SEE ALSO: More Than the Birds and the Bees: Teaching Your Child About Healthy Sexuality

Keep father figures upfront. A dad may think, "Girly stuff? That's not my department!" But that doesn't mean dads should pull away. Girls need a positive male role model in their lives. Dads: Continue giving hugs, enjoy daddy-daughter dates, provide one-on-one attention and stay involved in their lives.

Remember: Influence equals time. Between early and late adolescence, youth will try to separate from parents. That's why they are more influenced by peers than parents during this stage. The good news is that studies show they're still listening to their parents (even if they appear tuned out)!  So, continue to talk and spend time with them. Do things they like to do, inviting their friends along, too.

Nature's purpose for pre-pubescence is preparing the body for procreation. Of course, just because the body is physically ready to do something, doesn't mean the individual is emotionally ready. Be sure to talk about relationships with your children. I do see youth who are sexually active at this age, although it isn't the majority. Parents need to be aware of where their children are, and make sure adult supervision is present.

In addition to treating teens and pre-teens, I'm a mom, too. I have an adolescent son, a pre-adolescent son and a 7-year-old daughter. I've been there, am there and will be there again soon! Though pre-pubescence can feel delicate and topsy-turvy, it's also filled with opportunity and excitement for the future ... and parents are the best ones to lead and love youth through this transitional time.

Dr. Lillian Ferdinands is a pediatrician at Huntersville Pediatrics and Internal Medicine.


SEE ALSO: 4 Things to Look For When Buying Her First Bra

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February 2016

Join a naturalist and venture deep into the preserve to see what roams around during winter. At the end, warm up by sipping hot cocoa while watching the birds in the garden. 

Cost: FREE.

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Reedy Creek Nature Preserve
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Discovery Place KIDS
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ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St.
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Sponsor: Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
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Reedy Creek Nature Center
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McDowell Nature Center
15222 York Road
Charlotte, NC  28278
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Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
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Contact Name: Marie Cheek
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2412 Beatties Ford Road
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Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
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Cost: FREE.

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St. Patrick's Catholic School
1121 Buchanan St.
Charlotte , NC
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Telephone: 704-333-3174
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Cost: $3-$5, includes museum admission

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Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC  29732
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Sponsor: Cultural and Heritage Museums
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Contact Name: Marie Cheek
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Cost: FREE.

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Myers Park Library
1361 Queens Road
Charlotte , NC
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Telephone: 704-416-5800
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Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
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The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
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Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, watch the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Showtimes: Wed.-Thurs., 7:30pm; Fri., 8pm; Sat., 2 and 8pm; Sun., 1:30 and 7pm.

Cost: $29.50+

Where:
Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts
130 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-1000
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This exhibition of dazzling costumes, set pieces, and video excerpts celebrates an iconic company and its corps who defied prejudice, and gravity itself, in pursuit of their talent. In the process,...

Cost: $7-$9; children under 5 admitted free.

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Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte , NC
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Cost: Free

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ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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Telephone: 704-416-4630
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Cost: $3-$5, includes museum admission

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Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC  29732
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Telephone: 803-909-7244
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Cost: $5

Where:
Main Street Children's Museum
133 E. Main St.
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Cost: Free

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Mint Museum Randolph | 2730 Randolph Road
Mint Museum Uptown | 500 South Tryon Street
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Cost: $5-$8

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Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC
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Telephone: 704-333-1887
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Featuring a full-scale model of Titanoboa and clips from a Smithsonian Channel documentary, the exhibition delves into the discovery, reconstruction, and implications of this enormous...

Cost: $4-$10, includes museum admission

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
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More information

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, watch the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Showtimes: Wed.-Thurs., 7:30pm; Fri., 8pm; Sat., 2 and 8pm; Sun., 1:30 and 7pm.

Cost: $29.50+

Where:
Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts
130 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-1000
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Cost: $3-$6, includes museum admission

Where:
Historic Brattonsville
1444 Brattonsville Road
McConnells, SC
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Telephone: 803-684-2327
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This exhibition of dazzling costumes, set pieces, and video excerpts celebrates an iconic company and its corps who defied prejudice, and gravity itself, in pursuit of their talent. In the process,...

Cost: $7-$9; children under 5 admitted free.

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte , NC
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Telephone: 704-547-3700
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Cost: FREE

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Chick-fil-A StoneCest at Piper Glen
7910 Rea Rd
Charlotte, NC  28277
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Cost: $3-$5, includes museum admission

Where:
Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC  29732
View map »


Sponsor: Cultural and Heritage Museums
Telephone: 803-909-7244
Contact Name: Marie Cheek
Website »

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Cost: $5-$8

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-333-1887
Website »

More information

Featuring a full-scale model of Titanoboa and clips from a Smithsonian Channel documentary, the exhibition delves into the discovery, reconstruction, and implications of this enormous...

Cost: $4-$10, includes museum admission

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, watch the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Showtimes: Wed.-Thurs., 7:30pm; Fri., 8pm; Sat., 2 and 8pm; Sun., 1:30 and 7pm.

Cost: $29.50+

Where:
Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts
130 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

This exhibition of dazzling costumes, set pieces, and video excerpts celebrates an iconic company and its corps who defied prejudice, and gravity itself, in pursuit of their talent. In the process,...

Cost: $7-$9; children under 5 admitted free.

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

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Children boost reading skills and confidence by reading aloud to a volunteer therapy dog. Please register for one time slot.

Cost: Free

Where:
Morrison Regional Library
7015 Morrison Blvd.
Charlotte , NC
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Telephone: 704-416-5400
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Features artwork of over 30 artists, created in a range of artistic styles and media including pencil, ink, watercolor, and woodcut. Families can also expect interactive components.

Cost: $3-$5, includes museum admission

Where:
Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC  29732
View map »


Sponsor: Cultural and Heritage Museums
Telephone: 803-909-7244
Contact Name: Marie Cheek
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In this free, 90-minute workshop, kids can go behind the scenes to learn how to code, program, and play in their own gaming world. Register today at www.microsoftstore.com/southpark as...

Cost: FREE.

Where:
SouthPark Microsoft Store
4400 Sharon Rd
Charlotte , NC  28211
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Telephone: 704-916-6610

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Explore the surprising ways that Latinos are shaping the South and how the South is shaping Latinos. Museum hours: Mon.-Sat., 10am-5pm; Sun., Noon-5pm.

Cost: $5-$8

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-333-1887
Website »

More information

Featuring a full-scale model of Titanoboa and clips from a Smithsonian Channel documentary, the exhibition delves into the discovery, reconstruction, and implications of this enormous...

Cost: $4-$10, includes museum admission

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, watch the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Showtimes: Wed.-Thurs., 7:30pm; Fri., 8pm; Sat., 2 and 8pm; Sun., 1:30 and 7pm.

Cost: $29.50+

Where:
Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts
130 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

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Cost: $12-$18

Where:
Fullwood Theater
100 Mcdowell St. East
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition of dazzling costumes, set pieces, and video excerpts celebrates an iconic company and its corps who defied prejudice, and gravity itself, in pursuit of their talent. In the process,...

Cost: $7-$9; children under 5 admitted free.

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Led by local York County birders, help count the different species by listening to their songs and by spying their outlines and colors in a winter habitat. Dress for the weather, this program...

Cost: $5, includes museum admission

Where:
Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Sponsor: Cultural and Heritage Museums
Telephone: 803-909-7244
Contact Name: Marie Cheek
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Center
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
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Telephone: 704-875-1391
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Cost: Free

Where:
Family Dollar
4005 Sunset Road
Charlotte, NC  28216
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Cost: Free

Where:
Reedy Creek Nature Center
2900 Rocky River Road
Charlotte, NC
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Telephone: 704-432-6459
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Cost: $19.50-$24.50

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Knight Theater
430 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
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Cost: Free with admission.

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
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Cost: Free for children, $8 for the general public

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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Telephone: 704-353-9208
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Cost: $4-$10, includes admission

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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Telephone: 704-866-6900
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Cost: FREE.

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
Charlotte, NC  28215
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Telephone: 704-568-1774
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Cost: Starting at $27.75

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2700 E. Independence Blvd.
Charlotte, NC
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Telephone: 800-745-3000
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Cost: FREE.

Where:
Cabarrus Arena & Events Center
4751 Hwy 49 S
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Features artwork of over 30 artists, created in a range of artistic styles and media including pencil, ink, watercolor, and woodcut. Families can also expect interactive components.

Cost: $3-$5, includes museum admission

Where:
Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC  29732
View map »


Sponsor: Cultural and Heritage Museums
Telephone: 803-909-7244
Contact Name: Marie Cheek
Website »

More information

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Cost: $5

Where:
Main Street Children's Museum
133 E. Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $2 for 8 and older, ages 7 and under free

Where:
Reed Gold Mine
9621 Reed Mine Road
Midland, NC  28107
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Sponsor: Reed Gold Mine
Telephone: 704-721-4653 x211
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Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the surprising ways that Latinos are shaping the South and how the South is shaping Latinos. Museum hours: Mon.-Sat., 10am-5pm; Sun., Noon-5pm.

Cost: $5-$8

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-333-1887
Website »

More information

Featuring a full-scale model of Titanoboa and clips from a Smithsonian Channel documentary, the exhibition delves into the discovery, reconstruction, and implications of this enormous...

Cost: $4-$10, includes museum admission

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, watch the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Showtimes: Wed.-Thurs., 7:30pm; Fri., 8pm; Sat., 2 and 8pm; Sun., 1:30 and 7pm.

Cost: $29.50+

Where:
Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts
130 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

Amid the chaos of citizens being charged to use public restrooms from a terrible water shortage, a Gotham hero plans a revolution to help lead his community to freedom.

Cost: $12-$18

Where:
Fullwood Theater
100 Mcdowell St. East
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $7-$10

Where:
AMC Theatres
Charlotte , NC


Website »

More information

This exhibition of dazzling costumes, set pieces, and video excerpts celebrates an iconic company and its corps who defied prejudice, and gravity itself, in pursuit of their talent. In the process,...

Cost: $7-$9; children under 5 admitted free.

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

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