How do you help your eight-year-old figure out puberty? Is it appropriate to start being interested in boys at 10? We ask the experts on what parents can do when their kids grow up too quickly.
My child's only 10 but she's crazy about boys. What should I do?
Ng Siaw Hwei of University Children's Medical Institute (UCMI): With early puberty, there is a mismatch between the child's physical growth and intellectual development.
Cognitively, she still focuses more on herself than on others. Thinking in abstract issues, such as romantic love and sexual identity, is not established yet. At a young age, she will not understand the implications of such attraction, and may not have the skills for self-restraint.
As a parent, you need to remember that she is still a child.
Let her engage in age-appropriate play and social activities. Resist the temptation to dress her in fashionable clothing such as short skirts and halter tops. Discourage the use of makeup and nail polish.
My Primary 2 daughter is developing breasts. What should I do to prepare her?
Siau Hwei: Help her understand the physical changes that are happening to her body.
Explain it in a language appropriate for her age.
Do reassure her that pubertal changes are normal: While she is experiencing them now, her friends will also go through the same things at a later time.
Check out books and online resources on puberty. Tell her she can always come to you when she has any questions or problems.
Involve her in shopping for her bras and sanitary products.
Although it is not necessary to let her teacher know about her condition, it is helpful to keep contact with her teacher, who can help watch out for teasing, or signs of withdrawal or depression.