Some children begin to show physical pubertal changes earlier than others. Some children may even experience precocious puberty – this means certain secondary characteristics, like budding breasts, pubic hair growth, and rapid body growth, occur before ages 8 or 9.
If you have a concern about early growth, check in with your medical professional. If the growth is part of your young person’s healthy development, prepare them for other eventual changes.
Also, be cognizant of how others may treat your young person due to early growth. Sometimes we, as adults, may see more physical maturity and think they are also emotionally and mentally mature. This isn’t always true. Remember that emotional and mental maturity takes time for young people to develop and that even though they may be getting taller, (almost as tall as you) this does not mean their brains are ready for adult responsibilities and decision making. Many parts of the brain, including the decision-making part (prefrontal cortex), continue to grow for most young people until ages 24 or 25.
In addition, some developing preteens and teens may receive attention that they haven’t received before. This attention can include being stared at and commented on. Some behaviors may seem complimentary, yet many can also be a form of harassment and inappropriate. Therefore, make sure to talk with your child about consent, healthy and unhealthy behaviors, and places to go for support and help. Also, remind your young person that their “gut” reactions are usually the most telling – if they feel something is weird or uncomfortable, then it probably is.