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How it affects their emotions and social life

Puberty can be a difficult time for any child. But it might be harder for those with central precocious puberty (CPP). This is when children show early signs of sexual maturity. In general, CPP occurs when puberty begins before the age of 8 in girls and before the age of 9 in boys.

Children with CPP — which is more common in girls than boys — can start developing years earlier than their friends. These physical and emotional changes can set them apart from their peers. If you or a child you care for has CPP, here are some ways the condition can affect their social life.


Janet Lydecker, PhD, director of the Yale Teen POWER Clinic and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, says it’s never easy when kids are out of sync with their peers.

“Children, unfortunately, can be naughty,” she says. “And when someone stands out in any way, they tend to be the target of bullying or teasing.”

Lydecker, a licensed psychologist, focuses on treating teens with eating disorders and obesity, including those who face bullying. She says children who develop early can go through all of the above. Older peers may sexualize children who appear older than them, especially girls. This can increase the chances of them being sexually abused.

Kids don’t always admit it if they’re being bullied. Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

Withdrawal. Your child may want to avoid certain places or spend more time alone.

Anxiety about school. They may start to really dread going to school. If this happens, you can seek help from a teacher or nurse. “Anyone can be an ally for the child,” Lydecker says.

Disordered eating. Children can lose control while eating if they deal with a bully. They may binge on food to “escape feeling different,” Lydecker says. “We also see purging behaviors as a desperate attempt to change the body to avoid being victimized.”

Changing friendships. It’s not always a sign that something is wrong, but Lydecker says a sudden change in relationships can be a red flag.

On the other hand, children who go through puberty early may be taller or stronger than their peers. They can become bullies themselves, Lydecker says, especially if they’re feeling defensive.

When kids can’t be kids

A girl or boy who develops young may appear older than their actual age. Jami Josefson, MD, an endocrinologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, says people may end up treating children with CPP differently. For example, a family member may know that your child is only 7 years old. But if a child looks like she’s 11, the adult might blame her for not acting like “a big girl,” says Josefson.

It can also happen at school.

“Teachers may unknowingly have higher expectations, even if the child is not [acting] the age they should be,” says Josefson.

You do not need to enter the details of the RPC. But Lydecker thinks you should always speak up for your child.

“I’m really pleading with parents to say, ‘Well, she’s only 7. ”

Addicts to sports

If your child is on his period, he will have to deal with hygiene issues. Whether it’s swimming at camp or training in gymnastics, it could affect their participation in certain activities. Josefson says it can make them feel different from other kids.

Alla Vash-Margita, MD, chief of pediatric and adolescent gynecology at Yale Medicine, says children with CPP can use drugs to suppress precocious puberty or menstruation. But there are other ways to help your child stay active with their friends, even if they’re on a monthly cycle.

One choice is to teach your child to use menstrual products like tampons. Or maybe your child practices from time to time.

Whatever your family decides, Vash-Margita says it can be helpful to reach out to a school nurse or teacher to make sure your child has support.

Check in with your child

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to keep tabs on your child’s life. Lydecker suggests you do this every day. Maybe you’re having a conversation on the way home from work or at a family dinner. She says you can also just say you want to know if someone or something is making your child unhappy. Then offer to help them solve any problems that arise.

But make sure they know you won’t do anything before talking to them first.

Here are some other tips:

Know what your child is doing online. One way to do this, suggests Lydecker, is to have your child use a computer that’s in a shared family room. And she says it’s a good idea to monitor what they do or say on social media and text messages.

Get outside help. It’s okay if you need extra support. “Almost all child psychologists work with parents as much as they do with children,” says Lydecker. They are experts who know how difficult it can be to care for a child who is not on the same emotional or developmental timeline as their peers.

team effort

Children with CPP often have many people caring for them. This may include:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Pediatricians
  • Gynecologists
  • therapists

Let your child know they can contact you or another adult if they have any concerns.

“An open conversation is always key,” says Vash-Margita.

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