Health Parenting

How Early Puberty Impacts the Mental Health of the Child


In a world where you get to hear, “You’re no more a child to go, sit and play; Come help me with the chores of the house” and “Do not sit among the adults, go out and play”. Between both of these conversations, lies the stage of Puberty. A stage that is in between Maturity and immaturity. 

Puberty is a stage of rapid physical and mental transformation that begins during late childhood and lasts till Adolescence. Puberty is not a single-time event, rather it is an ongoing process that has happened in the individual since their late childhood. It’s often considered a stage of difficulty because of the rapid transitions that the individuals have to cope with. 

Puberty involves a lot of physical, hormonal and psychological dynamics that any individual male or female has to go through. There seem to be obvious variations in terms of the occurrence and changes accompanied by puberty. Usually, an age of as early as 9 and as late as 15 has been considered normal age for the pubertal period while for males it ranges from as early as 10 years and as late as the age of 17. 

While these are the general or normal age sequences for puberty, certain deviances have emerged in the recent century. Deviant maturity is something that can be defined as the sexual development that may occur either a year or more earlier or late from the general norm. Amongst these, Early Puberty has started to prevail more in recent years. This article tries to explore the various aspects of Early Puberty and its impact on the Mental Health of the individuals going through it. 

Defining Early Puberty 

Early puberty is otherwise called as Precocious Puberty. Precocious puberty can be defined as the condition in which sexual maturity occurs much earlier than the standard norm. This can be put as an individual attaining puberty or sexual maturity before the age of 9 for girls and before the age of 10 for boys can be considered as Early puberty or Precocious Puberty. 

Reasons for Early Puberty

Though the exact reason for early or precious puberty is still unknown, there remain certain speculations or factors as to why Puberty occurs earlier. This includes: 

  • Genetics or Heredity- there are greater risks associated with the passing of certain conditions from one generation to another. It has been found that about 5% of boys and 1% of girls tend to inherit this condition. 
  • Nutrition: the kind and nutrients that a child takes into account for their growth and development. Malnutrition or excess unwanted nutrient supplements could also lead to precocious puberty.
  • Obesity has become very common in children these days wherein we get to see so many affected by it because of the intake of huge junk. This may also be a causal factor. 
  • Brain structure: structural problems in the brain or injury in the nervous system, especially the Central Nervous System may also lead to Early Puberty. 
  • Hormonal changes: problems in the ovaries or glandular secretions would also be a factor towards early puberty 

Read more: Building Bridges: Nurturing Open Communication with Your Teenager

Effects of Early Puberty 

Whenever the world gets to see or notice something earlier than the norm, it always creates a toll or chaos. Seemingly it is the case for Early puberty too. Early Puberty can affect an individual both physically and psychologically. 

Physical Changes associated 

Though the following are the Physical changes that occur naturally during the time of Puberty for almost all individuals, the changes occurring earlier to an individual may cause a threat to the individuals going through these changes. The following are the physical changes associated with Precocious Puberty: 

  • Pubertal growth spurt- this involves accelerated growth that includes increased height and skeletal growth. Pubic hair growth remains obvious.
  • Breast development- Breast growth and development remain obvious amongst both males and females. Enlargement of breasts and chest knots remains a vital change.
  • Menarche- the first menstruation of females can be a causal factor or dynamics regarding Early Puberty.
  • There remain certain genital developments like menarche in females, the ejaculation of sperm in males; growth of facial hairs and deepening of voice – all these secondary sexual characteristics happen. 
  • Bone growth and composition remain obvious. 
  • There is an increased muscular growth and development associated with Precocious puberty. 
  • There is a greater change which includes increased oil production in the skin because of the hormonal change, especially sebaceous gland. 
Psychological Changes Associated with Early Puberty 

The major Psychological changes associated with early puberty are as follows: 

  • This can cause an increase in issues related to Anxiety and Depression
  • This may also cause individuals emotionally sensitive to many issues.
  • There can be issues about self-identity- Identity development issues can be caused in an individual. 
  • It may even cause Body image issues. It may be vital to the development of many mental health-related disorders like Eating disorders
  • Many individuals may get into social pressure as they experience something that their peers may not. This might cause conformity issues. 
  • The individual may inflict problems with emotional regulations mood swings, impulsivity issues and stress-related problems. 
  • Early or Precocious puberty could often lead to Peer relationships or social development issues. They may face issues in building up a relationship with their peers or friends as they most often feel awkward. 
  • Early puberty among either males or females may cause issues in the family dynamics of the individual. Family might also hold the pressure or stress of getting into the growth and development of their son or daughter. 
  • Early attainment of puberty at times holds a greater negative impact like individuals might engage in substance use or abuse-related disorders.
  • Not just with substance use, but also with behavioural changes or issues like increased aggression, engaging in delinquency or might end up with Mental health-related issues. 
  • As individuals are too early to know or understand what’s happening in their bodies which impacts their thoughts, they have problems with Physical, psychological, social as well as emotional concerns of development. 
  • They at times with all these issues dwelling in them turn out to be bad in their academic functions

How to Help Your Child in Case of Early Puberty?

Parents can use several strategies to support and assist their son during this period, although it’s difficult for them to deal with puberty in a child.

  1. Communication: Ensure your child is comfortable in coming to you whenever they have concerns or problems. Foster open and honest communication on topics such as physical changes, emotions, and any questions about puberty.
  2. Normalize: Let your child understand that early puberty is a normal process that affects different people differently. Make the changes they are experiencing normative while telling them that they are not alone.
  3. Reassure: Offer your child reassurance that what they are going through is relatively normal at their stage of development. Assure them that regardless of how their body evolves, there will always be love and acceptance from both of you. Be supportive, and empathetic, validate their feelings and share their concerns.
  4. Educate yourself: You need to spend some time understanding early puberty including its physical, emotional and psychological aspects; this knowledge will help you to guide and support your child better.
  5. Seek Professional Help: If you notice any mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or body image concerns in your child, consider consulting a child psychologist or counsellor. They will guide you in the right direction and provide customized support tailored to your child’s specific case.
  6. Promote Healthy Habits: In this regard, always ensure that your child is actively involved in physical activities. Through exercise, he/she will become stronger and healthier. It will also help the entire system of his body develop well thus leading to minimized complications that come as a result of early puberty.
  7. Foster a Positive Body Image: To do so, pay attention to what can be done rather than to how one might look physically. Within its framework, allow them to practice the hobbies they love and explore new ones that can boost their self-esteem.
  8. Monitor Social Interactions: Finally, keep an eye on the way your child is behaving around his/her friends. Consequently, aid him/her in learning appropriate ways of handling pressure from peers while at the same time defending oneself during social interactions.

In summary, Early Puberty seems to have a profound impact on the individual’s growth and development. Seeking support, promoting resilience and the impact of positive outcomes can help individuals dealing with Precocious or early puberty. 

References +
  • %20children%2C%20early%20puberty,gland%20or%20the%20adrenal%20glands. 
  • Hurlock, E. B. (1983). Developmental Psychology: a Life-Span approach. Journal of Gerontology, 38(1), 119–120.

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