I’m raising a little girl who just turned nine, and LET ME TELL YOU…. I am so worn out by her emotions right now. We’re at about four weeks now of her randomly bursting into tears for no reason whatsoever.
One day, I asked her what sounded good for dinner and she started crying. I asked her why she was upset, and she said (through sobs), “I have no idea. I’m just so… emotional!”
I made sure there wasn’t something traumatic going on that had been hidden from me–mood swings can be a sign of trauma or severe stress–and then I tried figuring out if she was worried about Covid or school starting or something else. According to her, none of the above rang true.
So my next step? Good ol’ Google.
Did you guys know that the first signs of puberty start around eight or nine in girls?
WAIT….. what? That can’t be right.
And to be clear, I’m not saying that girls start their periods around eight or nine. The average age of menarche is around twelve and a half. However, there are multiple medical websites that say a girl’s brain will start sending signals to the body about it’s upcoming pubescent process between eight and nine.
Those signals (also known as hormones) cause more drastic fluctuations in their emotions than what they usually have.
If you couple this with the fact that kids around this age are also shifting from “little kid” to “big kid” at school, plus gaining increasing amounts of responsibility within their classes, you’ll find a group of 3rd and 4th grade girls who are in tears fairly often. I’ve spoken with some of my friends about it, who have daughters older than mine, and they’ve all said their kids experienced the same thing at the same age.
One friend said, “I made the mistake of letting my daughter have a sleepover for her ninth birthday. By ten o’clock, my living room was full of little girls crying about dogs they’d had over the years that had passed away. I had to call every one of their mothers to come get them.”
Hearing that story made me laugh, but it also gave me an incredible amount of comfort! Maybe my girl isn’t abnormal. Maybe she isn’t having terrible behaviors right now, or developing an anxiety disorder, or showing signs of trauma manifestation. Maybe she’s just nine years old, and her body is changing.
To any other parents who are going through this same overwhelming experience for the first time right now, I’d say put the work in up front to make sure there’s nothing else going on that could be causing your daughter’s mood swings, but then try to move on.
During that assessment phase, ask yourself things like:
– Is she getting enough sleep at night?
– Is she worried about the pandemic?
– Has something in her environment shifted that is causing her stress?
– Are there problems with her friends?
– Could it be possible there’s trauma happening to her somewhere?
– Is she having any physical symptoms that might warrant a trip to the doctor?
And if all those answers are within the realm of normal, take a deep breath and sit down on the couch. She’s probably just as average as my kid is, and you probably don’t need to worry at all. Continue keeping an eye on her, continue being an unchanging fixture in her life, and keep asking how you can help her, but let the rest of it go.
You’re going to need to rest as much as possible before puberty ACTUALLY starts.
Lord, have mercy on all our souls! *shudder*