Girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier these days. And up until recently, there wasn't much that we had to worry about except for explaining what was going on with our daughters' bodies a bit earlier than we had prepared for. Now, a recent study says that girls who reaching puberty before 11 years old are more likely to have behavioral problems.
For the most part, the cause of these problems can be traced back to friendships. Girls who go through puberty earlier are more likely to seek friendship in the wrong places—with girls who might be older or more rebellious. Sylvie Mrug, a psychologist and an author of the study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says, "For girls, early puberty is associated with more emotional problems, such as depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem, as well as more problem behaviors, such as delinquency, aggression, substance use and risky sexual behavior."
Because these girls are so young, they're much more impressionable than peers who hit puberty later and have had a chance to form more stable and supportive friendships.
But what about a parent's responsibility and influence? According to the Huffington Post, "Mrug argues that parents actually do have a lot of influence over their kids' friend choices."
It's simple: Know who your kids spend time with, meet their best friends, know where they are when they're not at home or in school, and set expectations and rules for behavior. Friendships don't have to be—and shouldn't be—the only factor in shaping your child's actions down the road.