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Puberty - Get Ready to Play the Puberty Game

Puberty can be a difficult time for children. Not quite kids anymore and not really adolescents they are caught in the middle in type of limbo. It is a sad time for many young people too. Many look back at their childhood and realise that they can never really act the same way yet they look ahead and realise that adolescence will present them with its own peculiar challenges.

Children are reaching adolescence earlier than ever. The World Health Organisation estimates that in developing countries puberty begins about three months earlier every ten years. It is a stage when the maturity gap between girls and boys is quite evident - about two years.

Puberty is a time of immense body changes. The male and sex hormones are different and set off different development in girls and boys. Bodily changes are more evident for girls are accompanied by huge mood swings, which can be disconcerting fro parents. The onset of puberty is not so obvious for boys. The first physical sign boys may notice is the enlargement of the testes, followed by growth of pubic hair. Testosterone, the male hormone, also affects mood swings but it arguably leads to increased energy and boisterousness. Many parents discover that their pre-teen son delights in wrestling with siblings or even his father in what is a sort of test of strength. Paradoxically, many early teen boys need more sleep and eat parents out of house and home.

Pre teens have a need for greater privacy so they spend more and more time in bedrooms, locked in bathrooms or arguing with younger siblings about personal space.

During puberty peers begin to assume increasing importance in young people's lives. Their opinions, their dress and appearance is increasingly influenced by their friends. It can be hurtful for a parent to discover that you are less influential than your child's friends, particularly if you enjoyed a close relationship when they were younger. It is a time when the telephone often becomes usurped, particularly by girls. Incidentally, girls can be quite cruel to each other at this age forming friendship groups along extremely exclusive lines.

It is time for parents to be a little circumspect ? a time for guidance and influence rather than control. Make no mistake children during this time of change need their parents more than ever. The way you go about helping them changes - subtle, gentle guidance is often required.

This particular stage provides a window of opportunity for parents. It is a time to help prepare your child for adolescence and even adulthood. It is a time for parents to establish a relationship based on mutual respect and shared interest. And it is the start of an exciting period in your child's development that requires thoughtful and smart parenting.

Michael Grose is The Parent Coach. For seventeen years he has been helping parents deal with the rigours of raising kids and survive!! For information about Michael's Parent Coaching programs or just some fine advice and ideas to help you raise confident kids and resilient teenagers visit http://www.parentingideas.com.au

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