Children are entering puberty sooner in life than ever before. About 1 in 5,000 children experience early puberty, and it can affect them, their families, and their non-pubescent peers in many ways, particularly when it comes to mental health.
Puberty affects the brain just as much as the body, regardless of when puberty starts. Hormones are in flux and can cause mood changes, outbursts, and feelings that kids have never dealt with before. What’s more, they’re also navigating the complexities of school, sports, social lives, and other demands. All of this can take a toll on mental health.
The stakes are higher for those going through early puberty. It can feel isolating to be “ahead of the pack.” A changing body can make a child look older, which may draw unwanted attention or unrealistic expectations. Kids aren’t mentally equipped to deal with certain emotions or experiences at their younger ages. And because they haven’t had the benefit of seeing their friends go through puberty, they can feel at a loss as to how to handle these new feelings.
Preparing your child for puberty before it starts and offering coping skills can help them navigate this confusing time. Cognitive therapy and a youth behavioral assessment can also help bridge the gap when communications become challenging.
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