Among the many changes you will notice as your daughter enters puberty, at about 9 years of age, is that there will be a change in the shape of her body. When you compare pictures of your daughter from one year to the next, you will be amazed at how different she looks.
Estrogen, a hormone from the recently awakened ovaries will begin to direct fat to deposit in different areas of your daughter’s body. Her face will be rounder and a little fuller. She will need to shop in the junior section of the store as her hips become more shaped.
What does gaining weight and acquiring a shapelier body mean for your adolescent daughter?
The reality is that our society is very opinionated about weight gain. Our daughters are bombarded with popular media commentary about the negatives of weight gain and especially how it makes you less attractive. Certainly, our culture has linked popularity to body size and shape, and even some celebrities are known for the focus of their body with habitual dieting or other more dangerous methods of “staying thin.” This can be a troubling reality for your daughter.
Here are three things you can do to help her
through this body transition.
1. Make Sure She Knows It’s Normal
Explain to her that the change in her body shape is because of the presence of puberty hormones and not something she has control over. All girls experience this at her age. It’s normal and healthy to gain weight right now.
2. She’s Not Done Growing and Changing Yet
Encourage her with the thought that her body shape is going to continue to change over the next few years until she becomes a young adult and then it will stop growing.
If you have pictures of other young girls, perhaps sisters, cousins, or even yourself, as they entered puberty (about 9 years old) and then how they looked when they were about 17 years old, that will be reassuring to her. She will easily see that adolescence has a look of its own, it’s different for everyone, and it’s not the end of her growth.
3. Teach Her About Nutrition and Exercise Now
Although weight gain is a normal experience during puberty, this is also a good time to teach your daughter about exercise and good nutrition. If you start these discussions during early puberty (8-10 years old), you can have a big impact on her decision-making as the responsibility for care of her body becomes more and more her choice.
A Tip for Parents
Your perspective on weight gain is vitally important here. Remember, this is normal weight gain and so you don’t need to be insecure. We want to guard against eating disorders and poor self-image.
Help her to feel beautiful each day so that she can have a positive self-image amid a stunning change in her body and mind.
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