Stage 2 is the time many people start to notice the beginning body changes a young person experiences. Occurring between the ages of 9 and 11, these changes include:
- Pubic hair starts to grow light on the outer lips of the vulva and/or at the base of the penis.
- Armpit hair may start to develop in some preteens.
- Body odor may become more apparent. This is because these hormones can increase sweating which combines with bacteria to create more smells.
- Reproductive parts are beginning to mature and get larger. For most assigned females at birth, this includes the uterus and vagina. For most assigned males at birth, this includes the testicles and the sac holding the testicles called the scrotum.
- For many assigned females, the development of the breasts begins under the nipples, which are called buds. These buds may appear like a bump or puffy area under or around the nipples. As this happens, the breast areas may feel sore or itchy at times – this is normal. As more time passes, the areola, the area around the nipples, also gets larger.
Supporting Your Preteen and YOU!
Upon new physical developments occurring with your young person, continue your research about what to expect and how to handle these occurrences. This can include:
- Reviewing hygiene habits. To do this, have a family meeting to remind everyone of the following:
- Change undergarments/underwear regularly, including after fitness activities.
- Wash one’s body, especially the areas that get sweaty, including the underarms, pubic area, and feet.
- Apply deodorant to the underarm area to prevent smelly armpits.
- Brush one’s teeth at least twice per day and floss.
- Properly wash clothes.
- Eat plenty of healthy whole foods and vegetables and stay physically active.
- Help them choose undergarments they prefer to wear. Many stores have individuals specifically trained in helping people find supportive clothing, like bras (if they choose to wear one) and underwear, by accurately measuring a person’s size.
- Recognizing the change in moods that might also begin. Although we do not “see” this development, we often note that our young person is experiencing a variety of moods. To cope with this, help your family members practice effective communication skills, mentioned in the next section below, to properly express one’s emotions.
Talking with Your Preteen
Continue communicating with your preteen about what they are experiencing. Yet you might notice they may not want to talk as much. There is usually a time in which many caregivers notice their preteen wanting more space. If this doesn’t occur in this stage, it may in the future. To help start conversations, consider asking the following:
- How are you feeling about the new changes your body is experiencing?
- What hygiene habits can we, as a family, improve upon?
- When would you like to explore clothing options for your growing body?
- Are the changes you are experiencing aligned with your gender identity and how you feel inside?