Puberty in Girls: What Should Parents Expect?

puberty in girls

Puberty refers to a period when our major organs and body systems mature. The process begins around 11 for girls, 12 for boys, and can take up to 4 years. It is a period of rapid physical development, hormonal changes, and identity formation. This article will explore the physical and emotional changes in girls during puberty, and inform parents of things that you should look out for as your daughter faces puberty. 

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What are the physical changes?

The physical changes usually take place gradually from age 11 to 13. Some of the changes might happen at the same time, others might be a bit late.   

  • Height and muscle growth: Both girls and boys will grow rapidly during the years of puberty. 
  • Body shape: Girl’s hips will widen and their body will get curvier. 
  • Breast growth: The first stage of breast growth is called ‘budding’. Some girls worry about their breast size, but sexual function, including the ability to raise children, does not depend on breast size. 
  • Acne: This is a condition of the skin that shows up as bumps – most commonly on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest. It is usually caused by hormonal changes and should resolve by itself after puberty. Cosmetics could be helpful, but always consult a doctor before using any product. 
  • Hair growth: Body hair starts to grow around the pubic area, legs, armpits, and on the face. This process could continue well into their 20s. 
  • Vaginal discharge: Girls will get discharge from the vagina that may be clear or white in colour. This is a completely normal physiological response to an increase in hormonal levels during puberty. 
  • Periods: Menstrual periods will start. Usually, a period would last for 7 days, and repeat every 28 to 35 days. A period usually involves bleeding through the vagina, pain or cramps in the lower abdomen, and general lethargy. It usually takes a year for girls’ periods to become regular. You may wish to consult a doctor if you are concerned. 

What are the emotional changes?

Emotional changes in puberty may or may not be as easy to notice as physical changes.

  • Moods and feelings: Girls will show strong feelings and frequently intense emotions. There could be wild mood swings in one day, which you as a parent may be unable to predict at times. It could take some time for them to learn how to control and express emotions rationally. 
  • Identity: In their teenage years, as boys and girls start to form a sense of self, parental and school guidance is essential at this stage of their development. 
  • Romantics: Girls usually start to express interest in boys and could engage in sex. Birth control could be needed if there is sexual intercourse. 
  • Decision making: Boys and girls will become more independent in thinking and decision making. 

What should parents look out for?

Parenting children through puberty is hard. Here are some handy tips: 

  • Healthy diet: Nutrients are extremely important in children’s puberty. A balanced diet could help them grow faster and stronger and prevent many chronic diseases in the future. Click here to find out more about information with regards to a teenager’s diet.
  • Give them privacy: As they are growing up, they would prefer more space for themselves and make independent decisions. Stepping back a little could make both you and your daughter happier. 
  • Conversations: Communication is always the key. Talk to them as if they are your friends and convey advice or life tips along the way. Pay attention to their mood as teenagers frequently develop depression and anxiety. Your words could be more powerful than you imagine. 
  • Self-respect and protection: It is important for parents to foster their sense of self-respect and self-love. Meanwhile, they should be informed on how to use contraceptives and why it is necessary to use them. 
  • Consult a doctor if your children do not have any signs of puberty when they turn 14. Some people enter puberty late naturally, but there could be an underlying medical condition as well. Meanwhile, extreme pain during a period or a missed period should both be signs of concern. 


Puberty can be a challenging time for parents, especially if it is their first time handling it. Knowing the different physical and emotional changes that your child may face while undergoing puberty can be very helpful in helping you deal with your child.

Want to know more about puberty in boys? Find out more in our article here!

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