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NAN: Early Puberty

According to KidsHealth, puberty typically begins between ages 8 and 13 in girls and 9 and 15 in boys, however 15% of girls age 7 are showing breast development while the average age of a girl getting her first period is age 12, according to Dr. Louise Greenspan as quoted in an article entitled Obesity and Stress May Push Girls’ Puberty Earlier. Girls with higher weights in early childhood have been found to start puberty earlier relative to peers at age 9, according to a manuscript published in Pediatrics. 

The first signs of puberty in girls include breast buds, which typically appear between ages 9 or 10, though they can occur much earlier or a little later, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pubic hair and a change in body shape. One and a half to three years after the breasts begin to develop, a girl can expect to have her first period. If by age 13 a girl shows no signs of puberty, nannies should mention this observation to parents and encourage them discuss the information with the child’s pediatrician. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, boys typically start puberty one year later than girls. The first sign of puberty in boys is enlargement of the testes and a thinning and reddening of the scrotum. On average, this happens around age eleven but may occur anytime between nine to fourteen years of age. If a boy begins puberty before age 9 or has not showed signs of starting puberty by age 14, this information should be discussed with the child’s pediatrician. 

Nannies should discuss how to handle conversations related to puberty with the parents. Since children may ask questions about their changing bodies to trusted caregivers, nannies should be prepared to address questions with answers that reflect the information the children’s parents want the nanny to share. Some parents and nannies may be more comfortable with deferring all conversations on the topic to the parents. If this is the case and the child asks a puberty related question, the nanny should let the child know that she has heard the child’s question, affirm that the question is good and important, and advise the child that she is sure it is a question that mom or dad would really want to answer. Nannies should follow up with the parents in private to let them know that a question has been asked and that they have directed the child to the parent directly for a response. 

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Early Puberty