Our body is amazing. Have you ever pondered over the fact that how from a new born baby, the body takes various forms and shapes. How at birth a baby cannot sit or stand, it cannot eat, cannot talk and is not capable of performing most of the actions.
As the baby grows, one by one, all the organs take different forms and sizes. This process of change and growing up continues till the child attains puberty. Even though every stage of child’s growing up is important, it is the adolescence when the child has several doubts and apprehensions, which require tactful and careful handling.
Today I will limit myself to this growth in relation to the girl child. Till the age of eight or nine there is no perceptible change between the growth of boys and girls. After this period the hips, waist and the breasts start expanding in the body of the girls. There is a growth of hair under the armpits and the pubic area. The child is baffled and fails to understand the change. Due to these changes taking place in the body, the child gets emotional swings.
The parents must take a note of the changes in the behavior of the child. Many parents do not understand the reason for the changes in the child and start telling them that they are putting on weight and they must take regular exercises. This was the approach in olden days, when mothers were not so alert. These days moms are educated and generally prepare the girls for the onset of puberty. In spite of prior intimation by the mother, the girl child is confused. At this stage, the child requires very tender love and affection.
I have seen some mothers grumbling in front of the child, “Even though she has grown so big she has no sense of responsibility. When will she understand,” and so on. This sort of condemnation affects the child no end. This is the time the mother must shower affection and help the child. The child must be made to wear a bra which must be carefully selected. The daughter may be apprehensive, but it is for the mother to convince her lovingly and patiently. Sometimes the brothers tease her by calling her ‘fatty’. Don’t allow others at home to criticize the child about her putting on weight. This is a period when the girl is emotionally and psychologically affected. It is necessary that she has to be handled with care affection.
It is around this time that a girl starts her periods. Many intelligent mothers caution their daughters about this impending change when the child is hardly eight years old. The girl should be told affectionately that it is nothing unnatural. It is just a part of growing process. You have to instill confidence in the child.
During my teens, I was studying in a school with a hostel attached to it. It was almost a daily occurrence that one or the other girl had her ‘periods’ for the first time. Those were the days when mothers themselves were shy to talk to their daughters about such matters and did not prepare them before sending them to the hostel. It was the senior girls who gave them their first lesson on growing up. It was at that time I learnt that many girls were unaware of ‘periods’. One poor little girl thought that she was injured while exercising for gymnastics. She applied some medicine for a few days, and the bleeding stopped. She thought the wound was cured. When the bleeding started next month, she wept bitterly and approached the school dispensary.
It is essential that proper hygiene must be maintained. It is very essential that girls must be suitably advised to maintain proper hygiene. The girl should be advised about the disposal of the napkin, how often it must be changed. The child must be advised to bathe every day. The child must be told patiently that she is attaining maturity. The parent must educate the girl that it is not any illness, but a part of growing up. Many mothers do not send the girl to school during her periods. In fact mothers must themselves treat this stage in their daughter as a normal process.
The onset of adolescence does not affect only the girl child. Boys also undergo psychological and physical changes, which will be examined separately.
Usha Menon, a 77-years-old retired educationist, who has four sweet, adorable grandchildren. Last year she wrote a book,”Reverse Gear.” This book is a sort of analogy between her professional and personal life, depicting the travails, ups and downs faced by an average working woman. As a retired person, She is leading a contented life with a loving husband, devoted son, daughter-in-law and two grand daughters. Her doting daughter, son-in-law, and two grand sons, who are very affectionate, look after her and her husband. She is grateful to God that He has, in His grace, given her an opportunity to live a life of peaceful contentment.