How to Keep Your Kids From Growing Up Too Fast

Increase Your Body (of) Knowledge

Over the last decade -- for reasons that aren't yet entirely clear -- more girls as young as 7 have started to develop breasts and even pubic hair. Boys may develop earlier too, but it's far more common in girls. So while your little girl may still have the mind of a third-grader, she might find herself living in a body that seems more like a junior-high-school kid's, and that can be upsetting to you both. "Help your child understand that these changes are normal and that all kids experience them at some point; she's simply a little ahead of her peers," says Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, author of Talking to Tweens: Getting It Right Before It Gets Rocky With Your 8- to 12-Year-Old.

Regardless of whether your child is headed for puberty early, all kids this age start to become more aware of their body and how they may look in relation to the other kids: Girls may fret about their weight, while boys become more sensitive about their height or wish they were more muscular. Feelings of self-consciousness can influence how your child thinks she should look, dress, and act at this age, so try to shift the focus away from bodily appearances to the nonphysical things that make your child special, suggests Hartley-Brewer. "Praise her great sense of humor, her spelling ability, her kindness, or her artistic skills."

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