7 answers

Puberty Starting? How to Deal with Mood Swings?

My daughter just turned 8 in July. This spring she was tested and diagnosed with ADHD and "executive functioning issues". She's also a very big kid for her age - her dad is 6'6" and is very wide and big boned (wears size 18 shoes), and her aunt is 5'11". She is almost 5' and wears a size 7 women's shoe, and is still growing. I noticed the other day that she is getting breasts. I'm concerned that she's starting puberty and I'm freaked out by it. I don't remember any signs of it with me until the 5th grade, and she's just starting 3rd. She's an excessive worrier, and I'm very concerned about talking about puberty and all of that stuff. Her mood swings are just huge - they seem to swing from moment to moment. A friend is suggesting that we put her on Ritalin because it may steady her mood swings and possibly slow down her growth. I just don't know how to handle all of this. My daughter is very sweet and caring and I hate to see her struggle with these mood swings and frustrations all of the time. We've tried play therapy and counseling and nothing seems to help. Any thoughts or ideas? Is anyone else's daughter going through any of these issues too?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks, everyone for your support and advice! At my daughter's physical, the doctor said that she didn't see any signs of puberty starting (phew!)and then we got the huge lecture on how we need to totally change our daughter's diet so she won't gain ANY weight this year at all. As for the ADHD, we're trying to take it one day at a time and work together on the mood swings.

More Answers

I"m in the same boat - my daughter has actually started to spot too - she's almost 9.. I've talked to my ob/gyn and yes it's normal.. some kids do start puberty at this age. There's a great book put out by American Girl - The Care and Keeping of YOU.. you can get it at a bookstore or on the AG site.. I've talked to her a little about it, but will be going into it more soon before she spots again. good luck!!!

I do know that kids can go through puberty early. My daughter's friend got her period at 8 years old. She is also very tall and developed but quite athletic. My daughter is 11 and has mood swings too, breasts starting, pubic and armpit hair beginning to sprout. I have not heard of treating puberty with Ritalin. That is for ADD. I think you just need to be supportive, pick your battles with whatever mood swings she is having. Is she active in sports or anything that can help her burn off some energy? Good luck!

I haven't gone through this myself, however, I know a mom whose daught began puberty at 6. Her pediatrician put her on meds to slow it down and it helped considerably. I work with special education students and Ritalin can help many of them, but it is not always the answer and can often be handed out to eagerly. Be sure it is what your daughter needs for her ADHD and not her mood swings before you give it to her. Unfortunately with all the hormone fed meats and dairy products we have today, girls are arriving at puberty earlier today, and its difficult as a mom not only to deal with the mood swings, but to watch your baby go through changes you know she's clearly not ready for. I wish you a lot of luck.

Absolutely, NOT! Do not even consider Ritalin unless an Endocrinologist doctor has already ruled out growth hormone problems, pituitary concerns or thyroid problems. I would phone the endocrinology dept at Dartmouth Hitchcock and have her evaluated. My son goes (for the opposite reason) and is seen by Dr. Cassella who is the absolute best. (Fact is the whole clinic is. I like it better than the endo dept at Boston Childrens) Remember, fluctuations in moods IS a sign of hormonal concerns and coupled with her height and possible puberty I would make that appointment today....it may have absolutely nothing to do with ADD or ADHD, etc.

By the way, I was 9 when I started my menses and was already developed and at 5 foot. However, that only lasted one year and everyone shot past me by 5th grade and my full adult height is 5'4. Take care and call today.

Hi D.,
Have you tried nutritional supplements? I know that puberty can start realy early or be realy late (my sister was 15) but I think no mater what age you are, the mood swings are realy hard to take - for the girl AND the people around her!!
I was dealing with PMS my self and thought it was normal to be moody evry month but with the supplements I've been taking it's getting better month by month.
Let me know if you want to learn more.
Good luck!
J. Jacques

Everybody starts puberty a little differently. Medication?! Wow, people suggests meds for everything. And growing up is a part of life. I hope you didn't medicate her for that. As a parent I would encourage your daughter to explore herself, and be proud of her image. Kids at school/everywhere are cruel enough. Make sure she knows what is happening, how her body will change in the upcoming years. Make it a good thing. A proud thing. She should be proud to be a girl/woman, and not embarrassed by it. And because she is changing on the early side of things is no reason to get frazzled. Girls especially are easily embarrassed by their image. Give her the tools and confidence to have a great self image. (I wish someone, my mom, would have done that for me.) If you are too uncomfortable talking to her about it, take her to her Pedi. They have good Dr.'s and Nurses that talk to kids all the time about growing up. Then at home remind her that she no matter what is a beautiful, smart, wonderful girl that you love reguardless of what others think. (I grew up with the notion that my peers had all the answers and when they said I was ugly or worthless I believed them. It still hasn't gotten out of my mind. I have a Husband who loves me, and thinks I am beautiful, but because of my poor self image I grew up knowing, I find his comments hard to take. I don't think anyone should feel bad about themselves.) If you can give her the ability to love herself as much as you love her, growing up won't be so hard.
Why would someone tell you to medicate your child? You are the one who is the parent. Your daughter may have ADHD, but that is controllable with out meds. All you have to do is stay on top of the symptoms- remember keep her focus, slow down, and schedules-don't change things up regularly. A constant schedule will keep her knowing what is expected next, and wich behavior is exceptable. Meds? Is she really that bad? Does she need to know that the only way she is "ok" is with Meds? Meds for growing up, really!
I hope you do what you think is right. Love the heck out of that little girl. Be proud of her with every step of her growing up, even when you'd really love to keep her little a while longer (forever).

Hello,
my daughter just turned 9 and she is starting puberty early as well.. She has been wearing a bra for over a year. Just a kids sport type. She likes it. But she has started having mood swings about 6 months ago. Makes me not look forward to the next couple years if it gets much worse.. I am at a loss to help.. Just thought i would throw out that you are not alone.. Good luck and best wishes..

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