We’ve all had early bloomers in our ministry. Maybe a middle school girl who is a foot taller than her peers. Or the occasional 7th grade boy with a scraggly ‘stache. It’s one of the fun things about working with middle schoolers, they come in all shapes and sizes!
For years there has been an assumption that early onset puberty lead to all sorts of potential problems. Was the brain developing as fast as the body? Could a child who looked a few years older handle the social pressure that might bring on? And was developing earlier than your peers an actual problem?
Some new research in Australia is dispelling some of these assumptions. (Bear in mind that there’s not a perfect correlation between an Australian pre-teen and an American one.)
Previously, researchers thought that negative behavior associated with early puberty — such as difficulty playing with other kids and participating in normal school activities — showed up only after puberty’s onset. But the new study showed that children who later had early-onset puberty showed evidence of such problems when they were 4 or 5 years old. Boys in this group had also shown other behavior problems, such as being overactive, losing their temper and preferring to play alone from a young age.
In other words, researchers are not finding a direct correlation between early onset puberty and psycho-social problems with children. Instead, they are finding that the signs were there all along. So perhaps its that adults are simply taking notice of these early birds?
Question: Got an early bird story from your youth group? Share it in the comments.