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Puberty for Girls

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Parent Handouts and Info - Parent


Puberty for Girls parent text


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Preschool/Kindergarten (3-5), School Age (6-12), Adolescence (13-21)

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Puberty for girls

Puberty for girls

Puberty can be a stressful time for teenagers. This is especially true for girls. During puberty girls' bodies undergo big physical changes. Breasts develop and body hair appears. Hips may become wider and menstruation begins. These physical changes also affect how girls think and feel about themselves. Sometimes these changes are at odds with societal messages about weight and body shape. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it can reassure you and your teenager. Here are some milestones to keep in mind.

  • Thelarche, or the development of breast buds, is the first sign. For white girls it starts at about 10 years and for African American girls at about 9 years. Small round nodules appear in the tissue under the nipples. Initially they may be different sizes but over time they even out. This marks the beginning of puberty. Girls are considered early if breast buds appear before age 8 and late if they appear after age 13.
  • At about the same time a growth spurt in height occurs.
  • Body hair appears soon after. Pubic hair appears first and then underarm, leg and sometimes fine facial hair appears.
  • About 2 years after breast buds appear, menarche occurs. Girls will start to menstruate or get their period. The average age of menarche in the U.S. is now 12.5 years. For white girls it starts at about 13 years and for African American girls at about 12 years. At this point, girls are still gaining height, breast size and fat tissue.
  • About 2 years after menarche, or about 14.5 years, girls reach their adult height. Within 3-4 years of first menarche, puberty is finished.

Resource for parents: American Academy of Pediatrics (2004). Puberty information for boys and girls: Public education brochure [on-line]. Available: (April 7, 2004).

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