puberty

Are Puberty and Perimenopause Powerful?

I am often asked why in the world I chose to call the workshops that I teach Powerful Puberty or Powerful Perimenopause.  How can a stage of life that can feel so unearthing, so confusing, so shaking in every way, be called powerful.  Am I spreading a false hope? 

Powerful by the dictionary definition means "to do, to act, the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events, political force or might".  I don't know about you but this sounds like a very one sided and masculine version of the word power.  I am NOT dogging on masculinity or even masculine power...let me say it again NOT doing that.  However, I believe that this version is one dimensional, leaving a whole lot out of what power means and looks like.  In the end it disconnects many of us women AND men from this other type of power.

Invisible Power is what I am talking about.

Invisible power is found in strong connections to others and to ourselves:  true love for another, connection to another, connection to yourself, love for yourself, an expression of who you are and your gifts, your inner knowing and acting from that.  These are ALL also power!  Flowing, intuition, nurture, connection, creation these are invisible power sources that aren't valued or included in the current definition.  They also happen to be feminine in nature and tie into our life cycles, although that does not mean that they aren't housed within men.  They live in both of us in varying degrees and as a culture, these power values aren't included.  This disconnects us from ourselves, from nature and from ways of being that are POWERFUL and connecting and I believe can change the way we experience the world and interact with it. 

Power is being embodied, discovering and uncovering who you are and showing that person to the world. Power includes vulnerability!

 The process of these time periods of life is that you are becoming you.  You are connecting with your inner wisdom. Brain scans show that the intuitive parts of our brain are more active during this time.  For perimenopause it is said that we are becoming "stupid" our brains are shrinking, yes we do tend to lose words and that is f**ing frustrating however we are also diving into our intuitive knowing, our feminine knowing which is VERY different than our logical knowing.  Our society has said one is better than the other and many of us have accepted that. 

The story that we have been told culturally is that these stages of life: puberty and perimenopause are anything but powerful; they are a curse! 

We have been told and therefore may have experienced them as SUCK!  Cultural neuroscience has shown that our brains are literally patterned by our culture and that patterning can also affect our biochemical nature.  This is why in cultures that have different stories there are different experiences of these time periods.  Another way of thinking about puberty is that it is the beginning of the cyclical nature/connection of our lives as women.  In my opinion HOW POWERFUL IS THAT!!!!  However, our world is VERY linear and doesn't allow much for the power of cycles in fact we try and control cycles to "get things done".  Culturally we don't honor cycles and in most ways we ignore them.  Of course girls who begin to cycle hate it!  Forget about the pain and inconvenience they hate what they see about what it means to be a woman, how not valued the cycle is.  Many of us weren't taught anything about that side of it, or even the health benefits and clues for our lives; our 6th vital sign of health.  We definitely weren't taught that it is something to be honored and even that we can live into it and when we do we are more productive than if we worked in a linear, full on all the time way.  Girls don't learn about the emotional, mental, physical aspects of this time. Most of us didn't when we were younger either and that carries forward into the end of our cycling.  Most women don't even know what perimenopause is, dismissing it at that horrible thing that happens when you are "old" and lose your period.

For many of you reading this who have been through puberty and found it to be anything but powerful, I get it!!!

It wasn't powerful for most of us but that isn't because it isn't, it doesn't make that story we were told true.  It means from the very beginning of the turning on of the connection we become disconnected.  From the very beginning, we saw our bodies in some ways as our enemy: the cramps, the headaches, the PMS is the curse and lets control it because CONTROL IS POWER.  OR what if we connect with it, honor it and listen to it?  What if that changes all the symptoms?  A headache is telling you something, so are cramps and all the rest...do you listen.  If you did would it be powerful?  Would that knowledge, that CONNECTION help you feel powerful?

Both of these time periods are for going within, being all mixed up and then figuring out and yes that can feel anything but our current dictionary definition of powerful. We can’t control it and we can’t overcome it, although we certainly try.

We have to be within it and let it do it's magic.  We need to listen.  What if this is what we were taught?  What if as a culture we went through these time periods in these ways, with these ideas as explorers?  THIS IS what I am talking about this is powerful.  Having a relationship with it and not labeling it as puberty hell, or temper tantrums but as moments of growing and changing.  If we are given the knowledge about what is actually happening in our bodies and we be open with them and with ourselves about these time periods.  

I am asking us to evolve and reclaim these time periods in a powerful way.  Not of control, force but of connection and embodiment of becoming.  It is a process of becoming and through the breakdowns that occur; the growth that occurs a more solid and powerful version of you emerges. 

 


Would you like to learn more about your menstrual cycle?  Then download this free copy of Menstrual Cycle Wisdom 

Teaching Tweens/Teens about Health and Wellness

During a recent family vacation my 14 year old and I had this incredible, deep and meaningful chat as we looked out towards the crashing waves. We talked about so many things, all the things! We bounced around from one deep topic to the next: changing hormones, anxiety, chemicals that disrupting hormones, girls, the microbiome, erections (we were on a beach), fake people, media and so much more. Towards the end of our conversation he said to me, “Mom why don’t I learn this stuff in school”? He got that what we were talking about should be known by everyone; these were universal teaching topics. He wondered aloud why he learns things that seemingly have not much use in life but here were these topics that he NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT, that could make a difference in his life and that most of his friends had no idea about. I didn’t have much of an answer for him. Most of these topics were basic health and wellness, things that we all should know about and yet many of us don’t.

So how as parents can we show up to the educational needs of the youth when so many of us don’t even know what a microbiome or endocrine disruptor is? My suggestion is simple, critical thinking, curiosity, learning and engaging in conversations with them in the moments where their are openings (which means you have to constantly and intentionally create these moments or notice when they occur).

These teachable moments are huge for many reasons but the most important is that it inspires CONNECTION to their bodies and to each other. Teaching them about health and wellness from a young age will POSITIVELY impact the rest of their lives!

A “how to” that you can actually use!

How to help kids learn and practice health and wellness for their physical and emotional bodies:

  1. Be a role model! Of course kids always learn the best by watching us! A few years ago I decided that I was going to get strong again in my body. My kids observed me putting in the time and effort to get there. They saw me sweat, cry and push forward and then asked questions like, “WHY! Why are you intentionally struggling?” They saw me work hard and they also saw how much stronger and happier I felt. They also made a ton of fun of me and my grunting noises. It brought them out of their rooms and in turn sparked conversation about how easy it is to let the priority of ourselves go and guess what they even began to occasionally join in.

  2. Foster Curiosity: We have all heard the “nagging” comment. “Mom just let me be! Why does everything have to be a lesson.” Teens hate being lectured but they do still have curiosity in them in fact they have a lot! Remember when you wanted your toddler to do something that they were adamant that they weren’t going to listen? You had to outsmart them. For teens curiosity is the way! Instead of nagging them about eating their veggies, have a dinner conversation about the microbiome and how you are feeding the bugs inside. How these bugs actually impact our mental health and our physical wellness. Ask them if certain foods make them feel noticeably happy? Approach it with curiosity rather than a lecture. Watch a video explaining why sugar elicits a happy response. Once they have knowledge they tend to make different choices (not always) rather than do this because I said so.

  3. Youtube Videos: What if you don’t know how to talk about something because you don’t know anything about the subject? Youtube videos are amazing ways of sharing information with kids on health and wellness and learning more yourself. Of course you need to make sure what you are watching is actually factual and there are a ton of amazing and INTERESTING people out there teaching for free. Do you want your kid to see the effects of wifi on the human body when talking to them about lowering their media consumption then check this out. Want more information about the microbiome and how we are more bugs than humans, check this out or this! Be curious in your learning with them and see where it leads you.

  4. Create the Spaces and then jump in: Tw/teens spend more and more time in their rooms, with their friends and away from parents in general. They are beginning to have more of their own lives; THIS IS NORMAL! It is actually a good thing. They still need you! The process of individuation, that begins at this time period, helps them practice being “adult like” in a safe space. They are still dealing with big emotions, stress and decisions and need you around and available. Creating those spaces for connection and then jumping in with crucial conversations is key during this time. I encourage you to do a weekly scheduled “hang out” with your tw/eens. It doesn’t have to be elaborate! A walk, a cup of tea/coffee, a board game etc. Something where things can be brought up if needed and also fun can be had and at the very least connection is always there and assured for them and you. You often are the ones bringing up these conversations. It takes courage and you may mess up and that’s okay!

  5. Speak to their hearts rather than their ears! Having conversations around growing up, responsibilities, peers, stress is important. Having them over and over again is too! Speak to their hearts so that they open up and hear you. Try telling them that you notice they are stressed and connecting with them on a shared experience. Ask if they want help figuring out ways to release the stress. Have them remember a time when they didn’t feel stress and now what does it feel like in their body? Have them brainstorm ways to create that feeling again, what does it look like, what do they do already that has them get to that.

  6. Tap into the seasons: The seasons are specific times of year when things change. There is a date and time and for my family we celebrate it just like birthdays. We eat a yummy dinner with a yummy desert and talk about what we want to focus on this season; health and wellness is always a focus and how they get there is their path. We inspire one another and have a fun celebration. It also helps them have a reflection and visioning tool that they can use going forward in their life.

    So what happens when you tw/teen doesn’t want to talk or be curious. KEEP TRYING! Don’t give up on them. Keep your heart and door opened and insist on weekly connection. They will eventually have moments of cracking. The early that you can start these routines and conversations they easier it will be once they get in the thick of it!

Let's talk about sex, drugs and rock and roll: Tips on getting uncomfortable and talking to kids about all the big stuff.

Parents we have to talk about ALL THE BIG STUFF! It’s time to get comfortably uncomfortable.

So many parents are uncomfortable when I bring up BIG topics: sex, porn, body image, masturbation, social media. I get it! I mean these are BIG topics and so much easier to just not talk about.

You see for many of us, along with not being taught about something as basic and integral as the bodies menstrual cycle, we were also not given information or conversations about sex, drugs or rock and roll. Right? If it was often it was a sit down, formal lecture on all the things we SHOULDN’T do. No conversation, no information “Just say no”. That didn’t work then and it’s not gonna work now.

The thing is most of us adults would of loved to have had that This is Us (if you haven’t watched the show I highly recommend it) conversation that made everything seem comfortably uncomfortable.

Our kids want this information! They have SO MANY QUESTIONS and we don’t really want them going to youtube or social media for the answers do we?

Kids “know” about things earlier and earlier! They are exposed to so much more information than we ever were at there ages. They have questions and we have the answers for them. We just have to be willing to get uncomfortable and go there!

Here’s the thing:

  1. More than likely it’s gonna be uncomfortable! Parenting in general can often be uncomfortable. I don’t know about you but I never got use to wiping the snotty noses or cleaning up the puke filled beds (why oh why could they never make it into the bowl!). Now that they are older they can thankfully do those things themselves but they have a new need; conversation!

  2. You many stumble across some words. You may even get emotional and it’s okay!

  3. You may not “do it right”. I am not sure that there is a “perfect” way to have these conversations; but if you put thought into them, have chats with friends and actually have the conversations you are stepping in the right direction!

  4. You may not know everything and that’s okay!

  5. More than likely they are ready for the information well before you are ready to give it to them.

My Advice:

  1. You gotta start somewhere and then keep going! Opening the dialogue on BIG conversations like: sex or consent is the hardest part. Once you start the conversation it gets easier to keep going. It isn’t a once and out affair but a continual check in as they grow older, have more questions and real life experiences.

  2. None of that “sit down we need to talk” nonsense. I don’t know about you but if I personally hear the words, “Sit down we need to talk” my adrenaline is released and my defenses are up. This isn’t a great way to start a dialogue or open conversation around big topics. Instead start the conversations on a walk, as you are driving in the car, playing a board game or some other flow moment when you aren’t uncomfortably staring across from one another. This will immensely take the pressure off the conversation! Set up the listening as if this conversation is normal and natural to have (p.s it is).

  3. Keep connected! It is easy as kids grow up to let the natural process of individuation occur. Our lives get busier, as does theirs and in general some tweens/teens get attitudes and they aren’t always as fun to be around. Here’s the thing though. They need us (even and especially when they say they don’t)! Establish early some sort of weekly ritual to stay connected. It doesn’t have to be time or money consuming; something as simple as a walk for 15 minutes every Wednesday or a cup of tea before bed once a week. Something that is planned and non-negotiable. Something that occurs every week and they can count on. Of course some weeks will be filled with silly talk and some weeks may present the opportunity for something bigger to come up.

  4. Keep it age appropriate and if you don’t know what that is then check out one of the resources listed in the end of this article or heck reach out to me!

  5. Try and make it a conversation! Basically kids this age don’t want to be lectured at. They want to be a part of the conversation. So saying things like “this has been on my mind, what do you already know about it, what questions do you have”, are all great starting points (even if they say nothing, it shows that you were honoring and respecting them).

  6. Make it as short as you can. You don’t need to go into every intricate detail and this probably wont be the last time you talk about this topic. It will come in layers. Try and keep it short and sweet so that they stay with you.

Over to you! I would love to hear how you are starting the uncomfortably comfortable conversations in your family!


Additional Resources:

Common sense media: Along with being a great app/website for guidance around the age appropriateness of media there is also a wide bredth of great advice on age appropriateness for BIG topics like: sex, body image etc.

Ah Ha Parenting: Multitude of articles on age appropriate behavior and advice for parents of tweens/teens.

Sex Ed Rescue: Age by age appropriate guide on when developmentally appropriate conversations should begin.

Creating a First Moon Basket

Creating a first moon basket (or period basket if you prefer) as a gift for you daughter’s first period can help ease her into this new phase in the spirit of celebration and connection.             

No matter how well we have prepared our daughters for this day, they will experience an array of emotions. For most of them this day feels Big! Greeting them with a celebration is a great way to honor and embrace this change in their life; creating a moon basket is a great component of the celebration. A moon basket is a surprising element that can set the tone of self-care and an honoring or awareness around their cycle.

There is no right or wrong way to make a moon basket for you daughter. To get your own creative juices going here are some ideas of things you may want to include.

  • A beautiful basket/container

  • Menstrual supplies (pads/tampons/cup/undies)

  • Dark Chocolate

  • Bath Salts (Making your own is simple and less expensive! Not to mention you can assure that they help and don’t harm her new flowing hormones: you can simply get epsom salt and add a drop of essential oil per handful of salt and put it in a fancy jar)

  • A special necklace (with a red stone/theme)

  • Journal

  • Lotion

  • A special tea mixture and tea cup

  • Red candle, Red stone, Red scarf etc.

  • A new book

  • A love letter or card

No matter what you include she will be surprised and grateful for the extra love and attention.

Mom’s have you made a first moon basket or are planning on it? I would love to know what you included and how your daughter received it! 

Circling Up: How to Create a Mother/Daughter Circle

It’s simply a fact: studies and common sense show us that continuing to connect with kids in all stages of their lives leads to: healthy relationships, better boundaries, greater self-confidence and a more connected family.

However, as a society this transition/teen phase of life is when we see so much disconnection.

Throughout the early years of pregnancy and toddler hood many of us have access to a new community: pregnancy classes, mom groups of all different shapes and sizes, music classes, mops etc. We share our exhaustion, our embarrassing stories about how Tommy bit Jimmy, or what to do about teething, sleeping, temper tantrums and discipline. However, as the kids get older, enter school and all of the other activities and adult commitments, we begin to split. Many of us become ships passing at pick up and drop off with a nice hello and I gotta go.

Here we are entering into a BIG transition phase of life the tween/teen and we are without community.

There is no one meeting to talk about the teen temper tantrums or “bad” choices. Many of us even hide those things out of a fear that our tween’s choices are a reflection of bad parenting. We are lost at sea, as we deal with bigger issues that many of us didn’t receive guidance on even when we were teen ourselves. How to talk about: sex, puberty, what boundaries to lift and what to stick with, how to talk about social media, what about pornography? All of this on top of jobs, driving around to this game and that activity, your own social life and relationship to a loved one, not to mention any downtime and self care.

So what do we do?

We circle up! We gather a circle of people who are intentionally coming together to surround the younger ones as they grow. A circle for support, questions, connection and to show you your way back when it seems so very hard.

Studies have shown is that it is thru connection and parental involvement, parent’s “leaning in” that teens are able to develop healthy boundaries, less eating disorders, good communication and less risky behaviors. Due to the natural focus shift from family to peers that happens during individuation, adults can circle up around them and maintain the connection while providing influence through others. This offers a safe and fun place to be while talking about important topics that they are dealing with.

I do want to say YES it takes commitment and YES it is another “to do” and one that is easy to want to put to the bottom of the list, just as we do with self-care. However, caring for these relationships in this intentional way in the end helps EVERY AREA of our and theirs.

In the end the time that we put in and intention that we put in makes everything EASIER!

The how to:

  1. Put the call out: It’s pretty obvious that you need to start by finding the community that you wish to surround yourself with. Will it be your daughter’s best friends from school? A random group that you find by putting it out on meetup.com or some other connecting service? Or even a combination of the two. What age group?

    Suggestion: You can’t start a group to young!!! In fact it is easier to start a group BEFORE middle school, as the girls are less resistant and haven’t entered into the bigger transition phases. Of course you can and should start a group for older girls if that is the phase you are at! The big suggestion is to keep the age groups tight, meaning if you are doing a younger group than do a younger group only. 8-13 is to wide of an age gap, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13 are good ranges.

  2. Meet as moms FIRST and for a few months: In order to make this a circle that will be long lasting, it is good to come together as moms first and for a few months. You will need to set “ground rules” including: the tone, the where, the who, the flow for the group. You will want to talk about how you are going to handle group group dynamics and what each individual mom’s strengths are. You will want to decide who will lead or if you will spilt it up. Who is the main point person to gather everyone up? Setting up a group with a solid foundation will help with the longevity.

    Suggestion: Map out an entire year “plan” dates/times/locations, as well as topics that maybe covered inter mixed with fun meetings filled with art work or other fun activities for everyone. It is nice to have a theme for the year based on the girls development and build upon that theme in each gathering.

  3. Bring in the girls: Once you feel that you have met enough to set up the foundation of your group as moms, it’s time to invite the girls. You will want to create some sort of ceremony or intention setting activity with the girls as they enter this new space. They need to “get” what this is all about. Share with them that the time together will be fun and that there maybe time for seriousness as well; that it is a safe place to be together. For the first few meetings you will want to keep it light and fun. Of course for girls that don’t know each other you will want to do fun, bonding activities.

  4. Moving Forward: As you continue along the journey together, I suggest regular mom’s only meetings. To support each other as you are going through this phase in your child’s life. There maybe times where a mom/daughter relationship is struggling and gathering together without the girls to feel heard and supported will help. It requires a lot of vulnerability and showing up and through this is how we are able to keep on being opening and leaning into the relationships that matter to us.

I am always available to help out with questions or ideas for mother/daughter groups. If you would like to connect further simply reach out!

What to do when your daughter feels resistant and angry about puberty

Transitions can be scary: a place of unknown, a black hole, out of control, stormy.  It is normal for girls to feel anxious or fearful around the transition phase of life called puberty.   

However, sometimes girls are down right adamant that puberty is NOT going to happen to them!

  They don't want to give up their younger selves or their younger bodies.  They don't want their bodies to change and they don't want to lose control of how and when it will happen.  They don't want to give up playing their "childhood" games and when puberty comes knocking at their door early, it can cause a heightened sense of these feelings.

When girls are resistant to puberty we need to recognize the wisdom that is coming from deep within them.  They get it.  They get that they will be seen differently, although they can't really put a firm understanding and expression of it. They get that things become a lot more complicated as they leave the childhood years behind.  

So How can we be there for them?

Don't try and fix it: Sometimes as parents we want to fix things, to make them all better.  It's hard to watch our kids suffer and not want to take it all away. Here's the thing, when kids feel such big emotions they don't want us to fix it!  They want us to let them feel them, express them and hold them while they do.  We don't have to solve it, always help them figure out the why, or come up with ways to make it better.  Just be there and hold them in the muck!

Keep showing up:  Keep talking and communicating in whatever way works for them.  This means that you may have to have a conversation around expression.  Do they want to talk about it, write about it (journal with you), sing?  Share with them the importance of continuing to move through their feelings and ask them how they want you to connect with them.

Know what's normal: It is important to know what is normal for kids to experience during this time!  It helps keep you sane and it helps you notice anytime where what your child is experiencing is something you might want to seek additional guidance around.  It is really normal for emotions to be all over the place; emotional storms!  It is normal for kids to experience anxiety and fear around these changes and to move through them. 

Know what's NOT normal: It is not normal for them to want to hurt themselves, to not want to communicate in some way to some one about the changes, to have major personality changes that are destructive and dark.  When things that are abnormal are occurring it may be due to many different deeper reasons.  It may be awakening a loss of control in their life and have nothing to do with "puberty" but more to do with unresolved issues with a divorce, bullying or any other things that occurred or are occurring where they feel out of control.  In these cases their intense resistance to puberty is their expression of the unresolved issue and additional support is recommended. 

Draw out their stories: They also may have stories about what puberty looks like. One of the first things we can do as parents to support them is to draw out the stories they are telling themselves about puberty.  They may have seen something, heard something or gotten an idea about something that just isn't true.  Often times the stories are around seeing sex as tied up with puberty and they are NOT ready for that!  It's up to us to find out what those stories are.  You can do this by asking what they think and feel about x,y or z (open ended questions) or you can practice writing or telling a story, where your daughter gives a fictitious character a story around puberty and see what comes up.

Give them knowledge:  Share with them what the changes are all about and why they happen.  Talk to them about their questions, go through books with them and show them how to put on pads, tampons or take a powerful puberty class and learn about all these things and so much more with other girls and their mothers! 

Offer stability in their emotions swings: We are all humans right?  Of course when your daughter is raging at you or throwing a tween tantrum it is easy to say "stop it, grow up, it's not that bad" or just simply to be reactive to them.  What actually helps in these situations is being a emotionally stable adult.  Don't worry none of us are perfect and sometimes we will react and join in the storm, it's normal!  Don't beat yourself up!  However, it's important that we understand where they are at, so that the majority of the time, we are a tree swaying in their storm, rather than joining in to create a super storm.  Connecting with other adults around this to decompress is HUGE. (I have created a Powerful Puberty facebook group just for this decompression and learning, feel free to join!)

Honor the negative feelings and show the positive side: Honor the crud; whatever that looks like to them!  Saying things like, "Yeah I get how that seems weird or how you don't want that to happen"  and see if you can draw out the stories of why. Make sure the honoring is also mixed in (in the right moment, not in the emotional stormy times) with all the amazingness about the change.  Puberty is a time where she gets to step into her own strength, make more of her own choices and discover more of her unique personality and how that shows up in the world.  

Create a ritual:  Puberty is a coming of age, a transition in life and it should be honored.  Find some way of creating and honoring your daughter.  I suggest that you make sure that she knows that she is still the same as she was the day before her period started or her hair grew and she is also new and deeper. 

Girls that are going through or have gone through puberty need to be shown that they are still who they were before.  Simply put, there is a now a new layer to who they are and that will continue to happen as they grow older.  It doesn't take away from who they are.  They can bring their joys, toys and friends along with them on the journey.  They are simply becoming a more full version of themselves.


If you would like further you and your daughter's connection with each other and her body during this phase of life please check out my Powerful Puberty workshops.  

 

Puberty's emotional rollercoasters are a gift!  How to use them to help your child become emotionally intelligent

Did you know that moodiness in puberty is a normal, IMPORTANT phase of development?

  I know it doesn't always feel great, being on either side of it!  However, when we have the knowledge of what exactly is going on, specifically in the child's brain during this time we can see the moodiness for what it is; a time to teach them to name and express emotions, so that one day they may become emotionally intelligent and expressive adults.  

Did I mention it isn't always easy! 

My daughter woke up a few weeks ago in one of those spaces that I know is tricky at best to navigate.  Eventually she erupted and as her volcanic lava burst onto the scene I knew that being on time to school wasn't going to happen.  I had a meeting and wasn't happy about letting go of my own life to be there to cool her lava.  I took a break to express my own emotions productively and make plans for how my day could continue to honor both of our needs.  After I was able to let go of my own stuff and center, here is what I remembered.  Her brain is going through RAPID change as is her body.  She is already sensitive and so emotionally aware and puberty is reeking havoc in there.  The emotional powerhouse in her brain is all lite up and the part of her brain that helps regulate it is not going to come online for a few more YEARS! 

How's that for evolution, we get to feel the emotions intensely but we don't have regulation yet. 

This is where we come in as parents, we help children navigate their emotional rollercoasters.  We hold space for them and provide a grounding presence to the sometimes seeming insanity inside.  When we do this they learn that it is okay and safe to express their emotions.  In that safety we can then move on to teach them how and where to let their expressions out in a way that they don't emotionally endanger themselves or others.  

I do not always succeed at being patient in the lava flow but when I am, when I really can slow it down and see her, big leaps happen.  

The Science Behind the Ride

So often discussions around puberty are focused on the outward body changes.  This is what the children learn in their health course and it's the theme of the majority of the conversations that adults have with children about puberty.  However, there is SO MUCH more going on during this transition time!  One of the ways to deepen our understanding about puberty is to learn about what is going on in the BRAIN.  Understanding THIS helps us get, navigate and offer tools for children.  It helps provide the CONNECTION that children need because we now GET it on a whole new level. 

So follow me along here for a very basic science lesson.  

The limbic system (which is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional and feeling development) develops really early on in puberty.  It gives children access to all sorts of new emotions and very quickly.  Of course we all know that their hormones are also in MAJOR flux, while their body is figuring out the balance. Not to mention that the child is experiencing these hormones for the VERY FIRST time.  Then add in the fact that the brain growth is rapidly increasing for independent thought, so that they can practice making their own choices and with that a whole new level of body consciousness comes in. 

It is no wonder that all of this creates a perfect storm for emotional rollercoasters. 

The final and most important piece of the puzzle is this; the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that regulates a person's response to their emotions, doesn't develop until later on in life.  So your daughter is feeling really strong emotions, trying to be more independent, feeling a bit out of control and that's because she doesn't actually have the capability to control them!  Obviously telling her to stop being so emotional or calling her dramatic, well it's just not helpful.

Maybe this all is happening for a reason.  In this big stage of emotional development for young people, maybe we are meant to show up for them in big ways as the next phase of our relationship with them begins.  The phase where we get to have a much more interactive role.  Where they are practicing making their own decision; practicing being more adult like in the safety net of their own home.  There body is having these emotional storms and if we are able to help them during this time, it may be a key to unlocking children that are emotionally intelligent and expressive.  Gone are the days where we all need to hold our emotions in, stuff them down and focus only on the good.  It's time for us to help our children name and identify emotions,  feel them, "make friends" with them, and help them with expression.

So what the heck does help?  How can we all thrive in the emotional rollercoasters?

We need to help them learn how to first identify their emotions, and then express their emotions in productive ways.  Here are some ideas on how to do this.

1. Start helping them become emotionally literate.  There are so many ways to do this.  One suggestion is to come up with an extensive list of emotions and then at the dinner table choose one and ask the family if they have ever experienced this emotion and to describe when and how.  Of course having the adults go first will help them identify emotions that they are not familiar with.  Another way is to simply begin to have discussions about different emotions; begin to talk about the large variety of emotions, more than just happy, sad, angry and give examples.  Talking to your daughter about her ability to name emotions helps her then feel and express them so they don't take hold.  I have found the audio, Still Quiet Place by Amy Saltzman great for younger girls to help identify emotions; call them by a name and a place in their body that they feel the emotion.   

2.  Give them a journal.  Journaling is an useful tool to both get emotions out and then in later years they will be able to begin to process their emotions in this way.

3.  Help them find their natural expression:  talking, singing, dancing, hitting a punching bag, meditating, stretching, running.......you get the idea.  Some way to move their emotional energy out.

4.  Additional Tools:  Centering tools like essential oils or different herbs (passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm, lavender) to help calm their body.

Teaching tweens/teens how to identify their emotions, accept them and express them is one of the MAJOR works and lessons of puberty!  It gives meaning to the emotional rollercoaster.  

You are there to be their guide during this transition process.

 

Powerful Puberty

Feelings of being alone, awkward.

Roller coaster emotions that take over and don't make sense. 

No one understands!

Growing parts of the body and things on the body: too big, too small, not enough, too much at the wrong time, too soon, too late. 

The unknown, the unspoken, the who to ask, the secretiveness, the embarrassment. 

It's all just too much? 

Puberty!  The phase of life when everything changes, there is no control and often times very little knowledge of what the heck is going on.  

It's time to change all of that!

We can create a new way of honoring this phase of life for young girls.  We don't have to continue the secretive nature, feelings of being alone, no one to connect to or talk with.  We can offer them a different way.   

What does it mean to have a powerful puberty? 

Simply put it means to go through this major transition period in life feeling connected to the self, the body and loved ones, as much as possible!  In reality it is a lot more complicated. 

As adults we have to remember that puberty takes places over SEVERAL years time and there is A LOT that goes on during this time! It is a transition phase from young girl to young adult.  That is BIG!  Let those words be your guide in those moments when your loved one is deep a pre-teen/teem temper tantrum.  

What is our supporting role?

Having a powerful puberty isn't about never falling down, feeling emotional, yelling, messing up, pushing boundaries or breaking the heck down in a heap on the floor.  In fact all those things should and will happen.  It is about honoring their feelings and the bigness.  We can help our young girls feel all their feels and help them find the ways and words to express them! 

We can help them by knowing, teaching and using tools to help them through this transition.  It's about teaching young girls how to express themselves, how to name their feelings, how to be themselves, now in this moment, and as they change.  It's about teaching them to know and accept their own bodies, their own needs.  It's about teaching them how to be comfortable with themselves.  To fit in while being them.  It is also about giving them full knowledge of what is going on in their bodies and minds and why.  Knowing the realities will help them feel powerful around what is needed in their bodies and what they can control. 

To have a powerful puberty is to learn and practice self-love and self-care NOW.  Can you imagine how different life would be for so many of us if we had that touch stone, that knowledge and that power as we were going through this first of many major transitions in life? 

Having a powerful puberty means we need to acknowledge that sometimes growing is hard. 

We still can educate about what is going on, frame it in an open and positive light, celebrate it and all of these things should happen!  We should speak openly about this so that girls don't have to go through this alone. 

Connection is key! 

It is what helps us up when we fall down, it is what keeps our hearts open and allows us to have the courage to grow.  We can't control puberty, what it does to the body and mind but we can put the focus on staying connected during this time.  We can surround them in a safe community to talk about the bigness, ask the questions and see that they aren't alone!

To do all this as mothers means that often we may need to do our own work. 

We also will fall down, we also will feel all the feels and we also can love and accept ourselves in those moments.  We too need to feel the connection.  To often when our children are at this point the mom's groups, the support that we may have had when they were younger is no longer there.  We don't share the stories of our teens melt downs like we did with tongue and cheek humor when they were little.  We take it more personally.

  The most common work that I see needing to happen is around education and revisiting.  We need to educate ourselves around what is "normal" now, what is going on in their bodies and minds and why, so that we can come from a place of understanding and empathy when we connect.  We also may need to do some revisiting and healing within ourselves around what our own experience was with this transition phase.  Many of us didn't have powerful puberties.  Some of us weren't allowed to express ourselves, to know our own feelings or bodies.  If we leave this unchecked it is very possible that something our daughter goes through may trigger this wound in us and therefore we wont react or be able to guide from a place of wisdom. 

What does being powerful feel like to you? 

Before we conjure up a time when you felt powerful in your life, let me first clarify what I mean when I talk about power.  I am not talking about the power of one up, power over, or that that is derived from external sources like beauty, money or status.  I am talking about the power that comes from within.  This power comes from a connection to ourself, to love, to our internal resources and gifts.  

Given that definition, can you remember a time in your life where you felt incredibly powerful?  Seriously, sit still for just a minute or if you have more than a minute take out a piece of paper and think or write about a time you felt powerful.  Conjure up that feeling, the story, what did it look like, where was the feeling held in your body, and WHY did it feel so powerful?  

I can thankfully remember many powerful times in my life.  One of the things that all my memories have in common is this, feeling powerful often comes with connection.  That can be through an external community connection or internal/personal connection.  

This is the essence of a powerful puberty to me!  The inevitable falling down and feeling out of control, weak, emotional and the coming together. the honoring of the time, the connection and the growth.

When young girls are allowed to feel all the feels and they are acknowledged and loved through it, they feel powerful; even if we can't make it better.  

That is what we want to give to young girls.  That is powerful puberty!