Between the ages of 9 and 12, approximately, boys and girls enter that moment of transition between childhood and youth called puberty. A phase in which hormones are activated generating a whole series of changes in their bodies and way of being. Changes that they will have to face causing a new readjustment that we know as puberty crisis; a crisis that often occurs between children 9 to 12 years.
This time we focus on this crucial moment. After having overcome the crisis of 2 years and survived the crisis of 7, now we have to accompany our children in this other great moment of change and transformation. Changes to which both they and we must get used to; something that is not always easy. Comparisons and complexes appear, adapting to a new body is not easy, nor is it feeling older when you are still small.
If in the crisis of 2 years the imbalance was produced by their new possibilities of action, and in the 7 by their social and language development, on this occasion the brain chemistry joins. A brain that continues to develop, unstoppably, creating new possibilities for understanding the world.
The egocentricity of the first years is giving way to another type of more abstract and transcendental thought. Friends and social relationships are becoming more important although they are not yet as heavy as they will in the next stage, adolescence.
We are talking about puberty, that stage in the life of the human being in which, thanks to the action of hormones secreted by a gland located in the brain - called the pituitary gland - boys and girls are transformed to reach sexual maturity. A important transition stage between childhood and adolescence in which secondary sexual characteristics develop and the body prepares for reproduction.
The characteristics of this stage are easily recognizable, because you can see that:
- On a physical level, the body of both girls and boys begins to change. The first menstruation appears in girls and their breasts increase slightly in size. The changes in children are not yet so evident because they tend to occur somewhat later, although we do observe that they grow quickly and their muscles increase.
- The anger they are less frequent but when they do, they usually do it with great intensity. Sometimes they are disproportionate.
- The emotional state continues to oscillate, swaying between moments of great euphoria and happiness and others of deep anger and discomfort.
- Their physical appearance becomes more important and they fear that others will not like them.
- They criticize the rules and norms of coexistence and frequently fight to break them.
- They start to give signs of autonomy with a desire to separate from parents, although it is more of a psychological separation than a physical one.
- In the face of public displays of affection by parents, they are embarrassed or confused. Although they want to feel loved, they do not like us to show it to them in public.
All this, once again, serves to create your identity, their increasingly defined 'I' although they still have a lot to learn and polish. Therefore they need to discover with their own experiences where their weak points are and how far they are capable of going.
Once again, parents are the key to make this stage more bearable for everyone, but especially for our children. So let's try to be understanding and understand that it's not easy for them either. This time causes them a lot of confusion and they need, more than ever, firm but respectful, tolerant and above all patient parents.
We well know that there are no magic formulas or secret recipes to know how to act in the face of the constant challenges posed by the education of our children, because each child is unique and different, as are the families where they live. But this series of guidelines can be useful to manage this very special stage in which the rules and limits will be responsible, as always, for them to grow with the security they so badly need.
1. Propose rules and limits
In the same way that we have been doing so far, we must insist on the importance of maintaining a series of clear rules of coexistence adapted to the age of our children. Despite getting older, they are still not old enough to be able to decide the vast majority of things for themselves. However, we will try to listen to them and reach a consensus on what they can or cannot do, making it very clear that there will be some in which it will not be possible to negotiate.
2. Do not abandon habits and routines
Just as important as the rules of coexistence are the habits and routines that must continue to be cultivated throughout this stage so that they have time to study, have fun without forgetting rest and hygiene.
3. Encourage dialogue
The children of this stage already have a very fluent conversation and therefore we can maintain a very interesting dialogue with them on all the issues that concern or worry them. Encouraging dialogue is the best remedy against the silence that can settle in them in a few years, when they reach adolescence. But beyond this it is also the best way to continue cultivating the much-needed trust between parents and children.
4. Avoid sermons
In the same way that we insist on the need to establish norms and limits and encourage dialogue, we also do it so that you avoid lecturing your children when they overreach. Because we know well that sermons are useless in this age or in any. Apply natural consequences and flee from punishments.
5. Patience, understanding and unconditional love
Living with a pre-adolescent is living on a roller coaster of emotions and mood swings, so it is advisable to arm yourself with patience and understanding to always offer them that unconditional love that they so much need, even if it is now a little more difficult for them to accept.
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