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Pre-puberty: What Parents Should Know

by Claudia Arp and David Arp
Even in the years before puberty, the relationship between parent and child begins to change. The relationship in the pre-puberty period can be consolidated with simple means

Children now mature faster than in previous generations. The ubiquity of social media is probably the most obvious example of this. Where the girls and boys used to listen to children's CDs in the living room, today they walk around with smartphones and earplugs - and instead of meeting friends, they are out and about on Instagram, WhatsApp and Co. But how do parents best accompany their offspring through the pre-puberty phase, which can begin at the age of eight? Her daughters and sons are not yet teenagers, but neither are they children anymore. When the first signs of approaching puberty show up, mothers and fathers should find ways to gradually give their children more responsibility - and also ensure that they are heading in the right direction. You can help them make good decisions.

To do this, it is helpful to take a look at the two phases that every child goes through before actual puberty:

  • eight to ten years;
  • eleven to twelve years.

First phase of pre-puberty

The first of these periods is usually rather calm. As a rule, by the time they are nine years old, children's intellectual abilities are developed to the point where they can argue logically and concretely. The thirst for knowledge is great; their thinking is noticeably more developed than that of younger children. Girls are often a little ahead of boys. Many children of this age want to try themselves out, but still orientate themselves towards their parents. This is a good time for them to prepare their daughters and sons for puberty in a relaxed atmosphere. But the hormonal change can already occur now. In girls it often triggers a growth spurt, in boys this usually occurs later.

Second phase of pre-puberty

The hormonal change is more noticeable physically from the age of eleven. With some children the change seems to happen overnight, with others it happens more slowly. The physical growth and physical development in this phase are extremely different and individual. Girls have almost reached their final body and shoe size, whereas boys often still look like third graders.

During this time, it is important for parents to maintain contact with their offspring - because sons and daughters usually still like to talk to them. This will determine how the relationship will develop over the long term. However, this also means occasionally saying a clear no to the child - but at the same time signaling to them that this will not affect the relationship. So it makes sense not to argue about too many things, to say no too often. A yes in not so important disputes means that a child will be more willing to accept a no when it comes to important issues.

Those who also listen carefully and with interest to their children make it clear to them that their opinions and thoughts are important and that they are respected. This boosts self-esteem and self-confidence. The child understands: "If my parents believe that I am worth listening to, then I must be an important and valuable person."

When childhood is definitely coming to an end

But as soon as it becomes apparent that childhood is definitely coming to an end, parents should delete some sentences from their vocabulary, especially pseudo-reasons like: "This is done because I am your mother / father - and I say it." This form the exposition has had its day.

Instead of the parents' sole responsibility, another perspective now emerges: How can a solution be found together? Whether boy or girl: Above all, the child needs an open ear and recognition. Parents need to be willing to listen and understand their feelings rather than admonishing, offering advice, making comments, or finding immediate solutions to a problem. For every pre-pubescent child, two things are ultimately particularly important: that they feel heard and understood.