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Study: Fast-Paced Puberty Linked to Behavior Problems

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Puberty, the physical transformation from child to adult, is an epic event in a kid's life.

A new study in the journal Developmental Psychology finds that the timing of that change (how early or late it begins) and the pace at which it takes place have a big impact on a child's behavior and mood, The Los Angeles Times reports.

From the LA Times:

Researchers followed 364 white boys and 373 white girls for six years through puberty. In girls, they found, both an early timing of puberty (early compared with their same-age peers) and faster tempo (how fast or slow the puberty evolves from start to finish) were linked with problems related to symptoms of depression, anxiety, social withdrawal or vague physical complaints. A faster tempo was also linked to delinquent behaviors, such as lying and cheating.

In boys, faster tempo was linked to more behavioral problems. Boys who started puberty earlier than their peers and progressed through puberty faster than normal experienced the most problems.

The researchers commented that the puberty timeline can vary widely from child to child. From the LA Times:

"The thought is that when the major changes of puberty are compressed into a shorter amount of time, adolescents don't have enough time to acclimate, so they're not emotionally or socially ready for all the changes that happen," the lead author of the study, Kristine Marceau, of Penn State, said in a news release. "This is the explanation that originally was attributed solely to early timing, but we suggest that the same thing also is happening if the rate of puberty is compressed."

Readers, what do you think? What can parents do to help make these changes easier on kids?

(image via: http://www.wholeheartedparenting.com)

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