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Body Changes and Brain Changes 

The teen years are a period of major brain and body changes: emotionally, hormonally and physically. These changes impact everyone in the family, not just the young women it’s happening to. The great news is that understanding what’s going on gives parents the tools to help everyone cope.

Body Changes You Can Expect

  • She’ll get taller
  • Breasts will begin to develop, which usually happens between the ages of 8 to 13
  • Hips, bottom and thighs will round out
  • The ovaries and womb will get larger
  • Pubic hair will start growing, including around the under arms
  • The first period can arrive any time between the ages of 9 and 16 years
  • The vagina will start to produce discharge, which is normal and healthy
  • Skin and hair will get oilier, and spots and acne can develop.

Everyone Has Their Own Schedule

You can’t predict puberty as a ‘to do list’ or calendar. Girls can have periods from the age of eight or it may not start until they’re 16. So, while it’s well-established that most of puberty happens between the ages of eight and 16, it’s got its own schedule and usually takes around four years.

The Importance of Self-Love

Puberty is also a time when adult female hormones make their presence known, and brains are still developing. This means mood changes will simply become a part of life for a while. A brilliant thing parents can do for their teens and their sense of self-love is to support them to look in different corners of the world to find themselves. Social channels can be a place to find people with body differences, different interests and more. The wonderful thing about social media is that your teenager can see people from all walks and styles of life exploring their own self-love. In a way, that can reflect back onto them.

Supporting Self-Love and Body Confidence During Body Changes 

As a parent, you want your teen to go through life with a spring in their step and a peppy view of the world. You should want them to be the person soaring through the air on the rope swing. You want them to enjoy the sunny, bustling days on the beach. This self-love and body confidence comes from your teens truly knowing that women come in a range of heights and shoe sizes. We come in every skin tone under the sun, some of us with freckles or beauty spots. We are athletic and we are bodacious. Any of us are tomboys, goths, retro chicks, hipsters, girly girls and artists.

Overall, I encourage parents to support their teens by helping them to respect their body and making health a priority, being kind to themselves and doing what they love. And, ff you can treat something that’s really bothering them, like acne, then do so. Don’t let something fixable get them down.

In the end, it’s the little things like the little talks, the little experiences, that all add up.

Row Murray

Row Murray is a sex educator and author of the teen book, For Foxes' Sake. For Foxes’ Sake provides practical advice and guidance on topics as diverse as consent, body confidence and sexuality for secondary school-aged girls. Row understands what girls of today are facing and aims to arm them with self-confidence, digital smarts and self-respect. For Foxes’ Sake is available at www.forfoxessake.com.au, Amazon and Booktopia.