The New Puberty by Louise Greenspan, Julianna Deardorff

The focus of the New Puberty book is early development in girls – with examples as young as 5 year old hitting puberty (but mostly geared at the 8-9 year range). Yet ideally this is also a book for parents with young girls who haven’t started showing puberty signs yet to give them an idea of what to look for and some insight into why the modern girl is hitting puberty so much earlier/younger than her predecessors.  The book is extremely informative and ideal for both parents (written in a friendly and accessible way) and practitioners (many recent studies are published and put together).  As a parent, I look for these types of books to be informative and yet not have all the answers – I don’t want another ‘fad’ or narrowminded perspective on parenting.  What I do need is to know what recent findings there are and have those put into perspective of our past approaches to dealing with girls hitting puberty (earlier or otherwise).

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The book is broken down as follows : Part 1: Causes of Early Puberty (defining puberty, potential repercussions, and puberty prompters).  Part 2: Strategies (is medicine necessary, precautionary steps, healthy habits, the brain of a developing girl, the “talk”). In effect, the “Why” and then the “what to do.”

This isn’t a hype book with a lot of call outs or pretty pictures. It’s a very straightforward, informative, intelligent approach to the subject with the understanding that we are still learning so much about the subject (and will probably never know completely about the process of turning girls into women). And, although hitting puberty early is natural, it can also be very problematic for the girl and create issues that will need to be dealt with by parents.

Also important is that there are steps parents can take to help prevent the onset of puberty at an earlier age.  The book notes that the three most powerful forces at work in early puberty deal with weight, exposure to chemicals, and social/psychological trauma.  Simply working toward a better diet at 5-6 years old could have great benefits toward discouraging the body to kick into puberty early.

This is a very good read for parents of young girls, whether or not they are seeing signs of puberty.  Sometimes, parents really need an intelligent and straightforward presentation of factors that are (or may) affect the growth of their child. Especially since we are bombarded with ‘answers’ from relatives and media that are without basis or fact.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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