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-   -   the tween body (http://www.mothering.com/forum/39-preteens-teens/1369300-tween-body.html)

starbarrett 12-02-2012 12:31 PM

Comrades in parenting, I need to know more about the tween/preadolescent developing body.  I know my 8 yo has started developing early-- she has body odor and breast buds.  My family tends to develop early, so it's not a big surprise, though she is still earlier than I was.  Anyhow, her appetite is insatiable and she has gained alot of weight.  She is awkward in her body, ungainly, running is hard and anything that involves lifting her body-- like a leg up to a bar in gymnastics,  push ups, or sit ups are impossible.   I think this is normal-- that her body is changing so fast that her muscles aren't keeping up-- but it's hard for me to know because none of the other girls her age are doing it yet.  Up until recently, she's always been on the lean side and very strong.  My friend who has teenagers says this is normal, that all girls bulk up to prepare for puberty.  I know she is healthy-- we eat nutritionally dense foods almost exclusively.  We were really good at being active during the summer-- biking, swimming, and playing outside daily.  It's harder during the school year, but she's still getting plenty of daily exercise.  
 
Being so young, I know she is feeling pressure about being fat and I feel it too.  I have told her that she is healthy and that this is what bodies do so that they can grow into adults bodies. That our bodies are supposed to do this.   
 
I've reassured her.  I'm hoping you can reassure me. Am I right?  Can you share your stories about yourself or your daughters at this juncture of their development. 

MeepyCat 12-02-2012 07:30 PM

My memories of puberty are murky, and my own daughter is only three.  I have no other particular source of expertise.

 

I don't love it, though, that your formerly lean and very strong DD can no longer do a situp.  And if running didn't used to be hard for her and has gotten hard for her since the summer, I don't like that either.  A major change in cardiovascular fitness level that takes place over just a few months would be a big cause for concern for me.  Healthy kid bodies come in a wide variety of shapes, but losses in mobility are a possible sign of major problems.  I would want a pediatrician to take a look at her thyroid function, and other possible source of endocrine problems. 


starbarrett 12-02-2012 09:27 PM

MeepyCat,

 

 

Thank you for responding. This change has been occuring over longer than a couple months-- it's been over a year in the making.  I did talk to her pediatrician during her last well care visit a couple months ago, as much as we can talk about this with her in the room.  I could tell by her demeaner when we were talking that the dr was concerned about her weight.  She asked dd alot of questions about what she eats and how much she exercises.  She did the thorough well care examination and told her she was a very healthy, beautiful girl.  


starbarrett 12-02-2012 09:33 PM

I take it from the dirth of responses that this isn't normal, but I think maybe people are getting hung up on her age.  I know that her developing at 8yo is not normal, though it's not medically premature either.  I have come to terms with the idea that this is her path.  This is how it's going to be for her and I'm going to support her as best I can on it.   

 

If we ignore that fact that this is happening so young, is the rest consistant with the what a 10 or 12 yo would be going through? Do they bulk up?  Are they gawky?  I remember being super clumsy, and I remember having a hard time running around the track.  I developed into a lean athletic teen.  


jgallagher66 12-02-2012 10:05 PM

My oldest daughter and I both gained weight right at puberty probably about a year before our periods started. Not everyone follows this pattern but many girls do. We slimmed down as our breasts and hips widened and became height/weight proportionate. It became impossible for me to climb ropes or do chin ups at that time as my body weight redistributed and my strength did not keep up. It took some time to get used to my changing body and I just was not as athletic as I had been. For me this happened at about 12 and by age 14 I had slimmed down and become thinner but curvier and regained my athleticism and was less awkward.

Obviously exercise and healthy eating are always important but if other family members developed this way then this kind of weight gain and awkwardness might be normal. I think the messages she's getting from those around her are important. Dieting is especially dangerous and can really set up conditions that lead to eating disorders. It's important that doctors and all family members avoid comments that may even inadvertently lead to poor body image and dieting at this age. Doctors are sometimes not very knowledgeable about the kind of statements that can really trigger that kind of behavior. It may be worth setting up an appointment without your daughter where you can discuss your concerns but she won't overhear any comments that could contribute to an already shaky body image.

Caliope 12-07-2012 01:01 PM

For my daughter her appetite quadrupled around age 10.  She went from being a child with a tiny appetite to being a voracious eater (still picky, though).  In hindsight we should have had more healthy foods around and limited the cookies and chips...but she never had much interest in junk food and we were used to keeping a limited supply in the house with no issues.  At age 10 she started eating enormous amounts of food.  When we saw how quickly she was gaining my husband and I started keeping healthier choices around the house.  At the same time her height grew very quickly.  She gained nearly 60 pounds in a little over a year-- from a very petite 56 pounds at 9/10 years old to 5 feet tall and 115 lbs by age 11.  Her upper body strength decreased, too.  She could no longer use the monkey bars on the playground.  Her appetite has since normalized --she's 15 and at a good weight.  She complains sometimes that she'd like to lose a few pounds.  She's about 5'2" and 120 lbs. 

 

Does your daughter eat a lot of carbs?  I've seen a lot of kids that age who suddenly want nothing but crackers, bread, pasta, carbs, carbs,carbs and that was the case with my daughter.  Can you limit the carbs a bit if possible?  Many kids have a problem with wheat --it's almost an addiction for them.  Your daughter's hormones, including insulin, are probably in overdrive, causing huge blood sugar flucuations.   What kinds of foods does she seem to crave?  For me, cutting out wheat decreased my appetite significantly.   

 

Your dd is probably due for a big growth spurt, too ... try not to worry too much. I think it's pretty normal.... 


orangefoot 12-07-2012 01:04 PM

My dd is nine, soon to be ten and her body has changed from being slim and bendy like her little sister's to a much more rounded all over. She has a round belly that she didn't have last year and her whole self is much more squidgy if you know what I mean.

 

We don't go to school and she doesn't do organised sports but she walks and cycles and plays plenty. She is hungrier like the OP's dd and she is also getting a bit scatty and does silly things that you wouldn't expect her to. She is also newly disinterested in things that used to interest her and her tolerance of younger children is waning.

 

I have two older sons and I remember at this age they both bulked up around the middle and chest and grew very long arms seemingly overnight. They had no idea how to use them without knocking things over and didn't seem to be able to perceive where they ended. They became clumsy and found it hard to follow simple instructions such as the classic "You see that sock under the table? Can you pick it up?" "Er what?" Other friends sons were looking and acting the same and it took a while, and a lot of patience but it did pass and the boys lost their round faces and became young men with a bit more sense again and much greater strength.

 

I think when you have so many changes occurring in the body the brain needs to re-wire itself to adjust to the new physical state which must take up a lot of energy and probably leads to some activities losing processing power.

 

I assume that what is happening to my dd is the feminine equivalent of the process I saw in my boys so I am just watching and waiting and trying to see these physical and mental changes as a positive growth towards a new her, rather than what society may see as a child eating too much and getting fat because of it.


chickabiddy 12-08-2012 03:15 PM

I have a developing 10yo who is active and athletic.  She is also not slim: currently she's around 60%ile in height and 75%ile in weight, although she is solid and muscular.  She eats more than I do, and I eat plenty and have the rear end to show for it.  And sometimes she trips over her feet that have grown THREE sizes in a little over a year, or forgets that she doesn't fit in places where she used to fit.  So I'm not entirely unfamiliar with what a not-small prepubescent body might look and act like.  And I, too, am concerned that she is losing the ability to do things like pushups and situps that she could do previously.  I would try to make an appointment with the doctor when your daughter is *not* with you, and discuss the concern that her weight, or something else, is impacting her mobility.

 

It may very well be that she's just heading for an adolescence that is a little more awkward than others.  But it also might be worth exploring some other possibilities.

 

BTW, I eat very well -- mostly nutritionally dense whole foods.  And as I wrote above, I eat too much and I weigh too much and it isn't healthy for me.  It is possible to become obese on healthy foods.
 


Jay Braun 12-08-2012 06:45 PM

My own daughter is barely 5 months old, though I think often of what it is to grow into a woman. Something I'm doing myself.

 

After I gave birth there was a new respect for my body; its power and capabilities to create something so deliciously wonderful that I had no choice but to feel better about it. Although I still see the scars of my puberty. I grew so quickly, EVERYWHERE, that my skin shows the lines of many stretchmarks. But my puberty hit around 12. I remember feeling more sluggish, more unknown to my body and retreated into my head more often than not to deal with my changing state.

 

Perhaps your daughter is retreating physically to cope with her body changes?

 

All I needed back then was a lot more positive role models, diverse and confident women role models. Since I couldn't find healthy ones I sure went through the doozy of hormones and body bursting. My advice would be to show her confidence. Show her how much you love your body and all its "eccentricities", then maybe she'll feel more embracing of her own.

 

Go through anatomy books, have a special date to celebrate her coming into a new passage of life (she'll go through many more!). Teach her how to massage her feet, pamper herself, take soothing bubble baths - to see the correlation of our bodies equal good feelings.

 

Girls can feel so alone.

 

These are just my thoughts.


AAK 12-09-2012 08:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by starbarrett View Post

I take it from the dirth of responses that this isn't normal, but I think maybe people are getting hung up on her age.  I know that her developing at 8yo is not normal, though it's not medically premature either.  I have come to terms with the idea that this is her path.  This is how it's going to be for her and I'm going to support her as best I can on it.   

 

If we ignore that fact that this is happening so young, is the rest consistant with the what a 10 or 12 yo would be going through? Do they bulk up?  Are they gawky?  I remember being super clumsy, and I remember having a hard time running around the track.  I developed into a lean athletic teen.  

No, not the age.  

 

I don't remember any of what you describe except breast buds and body odor.  My dd is nearly 13 and got breast buds at 11.  She has had variance in her appetite during these changes, but here physical endurance and strength hasn't ever changed.  She has never had much arm strength, but her endurance and other muscles never skipped a beat.  I do know that after a growth spurt, several of the girls on her dance team would feel like they were "starting all over" with flexiblity because they couldn't do their splits anymore.  

 

However, everyone IS unique.  Therefore, I can't say what is right for your daughter's body.  If she really is eating nutritionally sound foods and not just eating out of boredom, I would assume that it would all work itself out in the end.  

 

Amy


IdentityCrisisMama 12-17-2012 05:57 PM

My DC has started breast buds and that's all I've noticed so far but some of her peers sound like your DC. Don't know if that helps.


Mirzam 12-18-2012 06:47 AM

1 Attachment(s)

I have two girls, both did not display any pre-puberty signs at 8. My eldest was around 11 when she started with breast buds, but she did grow quickly from that point on and if I remember correctly, she did start eating more. She was never over weight or clumsy though, and was always lean and athletic. DD#2 was around 12 before any signs of pre-puberty starting occurring in her body and it has been a more gradual process and no jump in appetite . At 15 years 2.5 months she still hasn't started her period despite being 5'7" tall. She is slim but not incredibly so; she is a rock climber and has a well muscled body, but she isn't particularly athletic, just strong. DD is obviously a late developer at the opposite end of the scale to the OP's. My elder DD was probably average for kids today. As for my DS, he is 12, 13 in February, and hasn't really hit puberty at all. I am not nearly so familiar with boys and puberty though, this is my first experience of it. I never really observed the process in my brother as we were both at boarding school.


KittyProblems 12-19-2012 07:18 AM

I know I'm only young (16), but I am pretty sure my body never bulked up, and neither did any of my friends, or anyone around me my age. My sister and her friends haven't either. So I'm not sure if it's an environmental thing, or whether it is actually a serious problem. Then again, my sister is growing too tall for her body and is receiving growing pains, because her bones and muscles haven't caught up yet, so your daughter may just have that but the opposite way, and so I'm sure she will grow into it, especially if she eats normally and healthy and gained the weight. If you keep up the exercise and the healthy diet all the way through her teens too, I'm sure she'll grow into it and feel better about herself. Is she involved in a sport she loves? That may help too. All the best.

StillForest 02-05-2013 12:22 PM

Hi StarBarrett,

 

My DD has had a very similar growth trajectory -- bulked up a lot when she was around 8-9 years old and at 11.5 is now tall, slender, and lean.  There's just such a wide range of growth trajectories and timing for preteen girls that it's very difficult to know what's "normal" or "healthy" --- Most of DD's friends are tiny and developed long after she did. So much pressure from the media for girls to be thin --- and we really work hard to avoid and counter those messages!  I'm quite tall (5 ft. 10 in.) and figured that she had quite a lot of  growing to do...  I also suffered through my father telling me over and over how fat I was....  Now I understand that this was also my way of growing.

 

I took the same stance that you're taking --- this is how your body matures and grows.  Your body is bulking up for puberty. We also saw very clear evidence of bulk translating into height in inch worm fashion. For example, she was taking ballet at the time and was measured and fitted for a costume for an end of the year dance recital. Ten weeks later she was literally four inches taller and four inches thinner!  Talked a lot about being fit and healthy and the importance of continuing to eat healthy food and being active.

 

She's now much taller and leaner.  Some of this is because she's gotten much more active --- she's gotten very involved in middle school sports and has realized how much better she feels when she's active each day. She does look back at ages 8-9 as her "fat years" ---even though I still tell her that this really was her body's normal and healthy way of growing. Christiane Northrup talks about this pattern of growth for some preteen girls in her book Mother-Daughter Wisdom.  I found this very reassuring at the time. I was also quite worried and did have some private conversations with her pediatrician to be sure that she was healthy. 

 

Best wishes to you and your daughter!

Still Forest   


jdsf 02-05-2013 02:45 PM

I had breast buds at 8, but I was also tall and maybe a BMI of 17 if I had to guess from 8-11. I didn't start gaining weight until after I started my period... I went from a girls size 12-14 to a women's 6 in a matter of months. Same with both my DDs. DD15 got breast buds around 9, period at 11, and hasn't grown since 12. DD12 got breast buds at 10 and still no period, but I'm sure it will be soon. She has a BMI of 14 since she has been growing taller by the minute but not filling out yet, which seems to be the pattern with her friends as well... They are all gangly. She has one friend who is both big and tall, and her sister and parents are very thin, so I suspect she will lose the baby fat once she starts developing, but she is in the minority for sure. I have noticed, though, that some girls with breast buds so young are a little on the chunky side... Unfortunately, the ones I knew at 8-9 who are 14-15 now are still pretty chunky. I have a friend who weighs close to 400 pounds who ate nothing but super healthy, organic, nutrient rich food growing up (her mom was a hippie), and she has always struggled with weight since 8 or 9. She has both PCOS and a thyroid disorder, so what she eats and how much she exercises has little to do with her weight. She wishes the thyroid problem had been diagnosed as a teen so she wouldn't be where she is now... She seriously can't lose weight. If your DD seems to be an anomaly, I would have her endocrine levels checked. My aunt was the same way, she got teased for being "fat" even though she wasn't that big at all by today's standards, and now she's a size 6 after getting on thyroid medication. Something to consider, I guess.


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