From Teen To Adult In 4 Steps

All girls will go through puberty at some point between the ages of nine and fourteen. This is the point at which a child’s body starts to grow and get ready for adulthood. There are some big changes that occur in a girl’s body during this time, some of which can be very strange and hard to come to terms with. However, no matter what happens to your body during puberty, there is no need to stress out about it! We have all been through it before and know exactly how you are feeling. Here are five of the most common things that change in a girl during puberty.

Breasts Develop

One of the most obvious physical changes to occur in a girl’s body is that her breasts will start to develop. At first, she will develop small breast buds, which will then become more fuller and grow into breasts. Not only will girls start to see these developments, but they will also start to feel them. That’s because their nipples will become slightly tender and sore. If you do find that your nipples and breast buds become painful, this is nothing to worry about and perfectly natural.

Periods Start

One of the main changes that girls worry about is the start of their periods. Most girls start at around 12 years old, but some can be as young as eight when they get their first period. There are various signs that signal a girl is about to get her period. These include a dull ache in her belly and a white discharge from the vagina. Once your period starts, you shouldn’t feel self-conscious about it. As long as you are using tampons or towels correctly, no one will be able to notice. Be sure to maintain good personal hygiene during the period, as this can reduce the development of infections: www.popsugar.com/moms/Signs-Yeast-Infection-Girls-30947431.

Notice The Opposite Sex More

During puberty, there will be some big hormonal changes in your body, and as a result, you will start to notice the opposite sex more. This means that you might start to fancy boys and could be sexually attracted to them. Even though you may feel ready to experiment sexually, you should wait until you are married. Abstinence is the best way to protect against unwanted guilt, regret, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections: www.prioritystdtesting.com.

Gain Weight

Most girls find that they gain weight during puberty. This is a result of the hormonal changes, as the body is getting ready to bear children. You will find that your hips become a lot rounder and you start to develop fuller thighs and arms. Don’t worry, though; this doesn’t mean you are getting fat! It is just your body changing from a child’s into a woman’s! There are other factors that may affect the weight gain, such as going on the contraceptive pill.

Once you are prepared for puberty, you shouldn’t find the changes that much of a shock, and will be able to be happy throughout this phase!

Go SAD For Your Health

Health is a wonderful thing that keeps your mind and your body functioning. Until something goes wrong and then everything feels broken: The mind is out of focus, the body is out of shape, and you find that your mood is not as joyful as it used to be. Often, the cause of a health problem can be easily identified: Bad habits! Indeed, your body is able to sustain bad habits for a very long time before it starts showing signs of tear and wear. This is exactly why it’s important to take care of what you have now before it fails you tomorrow. When it comes to health habits, you might be thinking of fitness regime and hitting the gym every day or so. You are right! But don’t be fooled by it: There’s more to health than putting your favorite gym gear on – even if it’s the latest pair of running leggings from a sports brand! -, taking care of yourself means being aware of the factors that could harm your body or your mind and actively taking all the measures you can to prevent any risk. Some would even say that staying healthy is a full-time job! So, look out for the SAD factors of your health and make sure to monitor them closely.

S For Sexual Health

You have probably already heard the big S word, but don’t worry, today there won’t be any talk about the bees and the flowers! Sexual health is absolutely essential in your life as a young adult. Young adults are, by the way, a recent term that describes anybody from 13 to 14-year-old to 25+, and you probably came across the term in your local library. Books such as Harry Potter are for young adults, for example. What this means about your health, is that your body is as ready as it could be: There will be no further growth development. As a result, you should look at it as an adult body and consider the health risks of the grownup world. From your early 20s, you should start screening for cervical cancer, as well as self-examination for breast cancer. However certain health providers do give clinical breast exam for women over 20s. Additionally, if your periods cause you problems every month from severe cramps, heavy, long, frequent or irregular cycles, the pill might be something for you. You can even order the contraceptive pill online if this is the easiest way for you. 

A For Attentive Lifestyle

You need to be attentive to the signs that your body gives you: If you are feeling tired often, it may be more than a bad night sleep, you could be suffering from a deficiency in vitamins or minerals for example. As bad habits need time before they inflict their lasting effects, it’s essential that you use the time now to develop a healthy lifestyle that is focused around listening to your body. You will soon recognize the signs of healthy routines as your body will feel better for them. For instance, if you start going to the gym regularly, you will soon notice that your body doesn’t only get fitter and stronger, but your mood will improve, and your sleep will be more refreshing. The same argument is valid for switching to a healthy diet. The positive effects will rapidly be noticeable, and this will help you to redefine your health.

D For Depression

Depression is often misunderstood and mistaken for having a bad day. In truth, there are almost 3 million of teenagers between 12 and 17 years of age, who suffer from depression in the USA. This number increases as people hit their 20s. Unfortunately, it is tricky to identify depression, or to take it seriously, if you have never faced it before. The symptoms are varied, but generally, feeling low and without energy, experiencing eating disorders, feeling worthless or even guilty are common to a depressive state. When left untreated, depression can cause long-term problems as it will have a negative impact on your education and your professional career, and it is likely to lead you to develop a form of substance abuse such as drug or alcohol. Additionally, as if things were not bad enough, teens and people in their early 20s who have a tendency to go through depressive moods can develop serious bipolar disorders in their later years. So save yourself any future troubles, and talk to your doctor if you are feeling down.  

Are You Sexually Prepared – No Respect

by Veronica Williams

datingAs I listened to the two young men in conversation my jaw dropped. I’ve worked with young adults for most of my life, but never before have I heard that particular comment. ‘No respect mate’.  The young man in question was describing a sexual encounter from the night before, and while his facial expression belied the comment, the words seemed sordid and extremely disrespectful.  I wondered who he was discussing in such derogatory terms and then decided it was none of my business, so I turned the corner and went about my own business.

In today’s contemporary society it seems to be the norm for young people to have sex before marriage. The media endorses this through adverts which encourage young people to make sure they are safe from diseases and unwanted pregnancies by taking precautions.  The expression ‘respect’ taken from several advertisements in the media denotes that the couple were careful and protected themselves and partner.  However the downside of this type of advertising message is that it fails to reflect biblical and moral values.  Do we still instil these ideals in the younger generation, or is it a case of as long as you are careful then it’s okay?

I for one don’t agree with the sentiment and take a rather old fashioned view of the matter.  I am in no way a prude, but have come to realize at a rather late stage in life that it’s best to get married first.  There are a number of reasons why I believe this is the best course of action for all concerned.  In the first instance you should be prepared to take the consequence of a sexual union, thus if this produces a pregnancy it would be best if this were in the legal union of a marriage.  Secondly, it is more likely that you will stay with your lover if you are married to them.

I remember in the olden days, an expression used by family members of the younger generation, that we were not as keen to explore the physical side of a relationship. In fact the morality of the day discouraged unmarried people to interact on too personal a level.  Moreover as practicing Christians we were very aware of the churches views on sex before marriage.  I wonder if these views remain today and whether young Christians still believe in sexual abstinence?

Do you as a Christian believe in waiting until you are married to be physically active, or do you think it’s okay to become involved?  It may be that you are courting and you may even be engaged to the person you are  involved with.  It could be that you have been going out together for some time and becoming physically intimate is really tempting.  You may perhaps be curious about sex if you are still a virgin and feel you are missing out. You may believe that it’s really quite difficult saying no, and after all no one need ever know.  At this point I would advise you to be cautious, because you will always know and so will the other person.  If it isn’t something that you are proud of, and feel the need to sneak around the place, then perhaps you should not be involved with the other person.  In fact I think you should step back and consider what the bible says in this regard.  It condemns adultery and sexual immorality.

We learn for instance in 1 Corinthians 7:2 that we should get married so that we can fulfil our passions in a moral way.  I appreciate that if you are only in your early teens that you may not wish to get married, but you also should also not wish to have an unwanted early teenage pregnancy.  Guarding against these things isn’t simply by taking the relevant precautions but in adhering to God’s laws.

“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. “ (Ephesians 5:5)

We know that God is a loving father who recognizes that human beings have wants and needs.  As a loving father he wants the best for us in all situations and circumstances and in terms of a sexual relationship he advocates that this is best in a marriage.  We are told in the bible that God says man should be chaste and live by himself as far as possible, but if this proves difficult then he should get married.  The union of a man and woman should be legal in the eyes of God and society; presumably this will ensure that everyone in questions is given the respect that they deserve.

Veronica Williams is a graduate in English Literature and has a Master’s Degree in Cultural Studies.  She was an educator for 25 years and is now retired from the teaching profession.  Veronica has a wealth of experience to share and draws on her Christian background when discussing some of her views.  In addition to writing educational resources she also writes articles for magazines and newspapers. Additionally she has written her autobiography, which is entitled The Mind of the Individual.  She moved to the Caribbean in 2010.

7 Must-Read Campus Safety Tips

7 Must-Read Campus Safety Tips

If you’re heading to college to get your degree, you’ve got to take care of yourself. College campus crime is real and varied, from petty theft to sexual assault to drunk driving. Always conduct yourself with respect, and always be mindful of your surroundings. We’ve also got seven other must-read campus safety tips to keep you safe, not sorry.

  1. Stay Alert

    When you’re out and about, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings. It may sound elementary, but many a police report has started with “I just didn’t know what I was getting myself into.” Be responsible for yourself, and respect yourself enough to stay away from clearly dangerous situations.

  2. Go Toward The Light

    College campuses look academic and sleepy, but they are often hotbeds of criminal activity. Don’t let that scare you; just be mindful. Stay away from dark or sparsely populated areas. If you have to go for a run at night, hit the gym or take a buddy.

  3. Have An Accountability Partner

    If you went missing, how long would it take for someone to notice? While everyone’s parents would begin to get worried after several days, make sure you have an on-campus friend or roommate that knows what you’re doing. If you don’t have any friends, feel free to constantly post your whereabouts to Facebook. It will be annoying, but at least someone will suspect a problem if you don’t check in every few hours.

  4. Lock, Take, Hide

    For safety when driving around campus, remember the annoying red signs: LOCK your car. TAKE your keys. HIDE your belongings. If you have children, pets, or a frat brother in the car, don’t forget to take them, too.

  5. Bottle the Buds

    If you’re walking around and it’s not broad daylight, ditch the earbuds, if you can. Part of campus safety is being responsible for yourself, and it’s your job to be able to hear footsteps behind you or a “Heads up!” when you’re walking through the disc golf course.

  6. Program Your Phone

    Especially if you live on a residential campus. “Mom” can remain your No. 1 speed dial. Your roommate, best friend on campus, and campus security should also be on the list. One-touch dialing makes it easier to report a problem, and you always want to be able to call someone in close proximity. Having campus security on speed dial? Well, that’s just smart.

  7. No Paper, Just Plastic

    ATMs are notorious in and around college campuses for being a hotspot for crimes. If safety is a concern, try not to carry or extract cash obviously or unsafely. The buddy system is always good if you do have to hit a sketchy ATM spot, especially at night. It might be more difficult to budget with plastic, but safety trumps money, every time.

 

Do Not Unwrap Your Seal

Do Not Unwrap Your Seal

by Nadia Gyane

teen, heart, sexIf women were like a special sweet, how do you think they’d look?

They’ll be sweet on the inside and deliciously tasty. They’ll come in different shapes and sizes and represent the many different colors of the rainbow. On the outside they’d look very appetizing and be covered with a special wrapping that locks all their goodness in and keeps them protected from unwanted buyers. When it’s in a shiny wrapper they look clean, fresh, protected and well presented; untouched and appealing to the eye. That’s why you have to ensure your wrapper does not come off.

How do we unwrap ourselves? By entering into a sexual relationship without the strong commitment of marriage, by exposing ourselves and abusing our bodies, that is how we uncover ourselves.

Women were created whole when God created them, and were made to be covered in their protective seal just like a sweet is in a sweet shop. Think about it no one wants a sweet that has been opened and tasted by others. That sweet is no longer appealing, often looks dirty and is unclean because the wrapping has been taken off. Ladies do not unwrap yourselves. Keep yourselves protected because you are very expensive and worth a lot, in and out of your wrapping. Remember the wrapping is there to protect what is inside, the main treat, so if you unwrap yourself to anyone what good is that if they do not decide to keep you and take you home. Allow them to pay for you and all that you hold inside, because you just don’t look good for nothing, there is so much more to you than the wrapping, and the price proves that.

To those who have been unwrapped willfully or un-willfully do not worry because all is not lost. The Lord will restore what has been uncovered and will give you a wrapping secured in His Love and Mercy, just remember to hang onto it and do not let anyone unwrap you unless they have out rightly paid for you. Remember we do not do installments, you have to be paid in full or not at all!

Love vs Lust

Love vs Lust

By Stephen A. Dantes

coupleThere are many ways to tackle this topic; scientifically, psychologically, socially, culturally, religiously, artistically, etc. Instead, I will simply discuss as if it were a conversation between a big brother and a teenage sister:

We all ask ourselves sometimes whether we love someone truly or are we just infatuated with them. And often, we judge our relationships based on outcomes or the finale of them. Human nature makes any person just as weak or feeble as each other. None of us are superhuman. However, not everyone goes through the same trials just as not all have the same resources at their disposal to face adversities. And in keeping with the topic, some of us discover the true meaning of love whilst others a controlled by the lustful desires of their hearts.

What does it mean to love and what, to lust?

To lust simply means ‘to have strong sexual desire towards someone’. To love means, well… to love (which I will elaborate on below). Everyone knows what lust is, but not everyone knows what love is. Sometimes, we are unaware of how closely connected the two are in the lives of average people. Some people spend a long time trying to keep and hold unto someone they lust and seldom realize that their relationship is only skin deep.

The younger an individual is, especially teenagers, the higher the probability of them not knowing what love is. And with that comes the entanglement of lust with what they think love is, and then the eventual doom and gloom – in majority of cases – of hearts broken beyond repair.

It is hard to argue whether teenagers are capable of finding or understanding love since there are many variables to consider for each individual. Differing maturity levels, physical and cognitive developmental stages, personal experiences, character, social environments; all are factors that determine one’s ability to ‘love’ or understand love.

That being said, you may want to know exactly what it means to love. Well, we all have our own definitions of what we think love is. You have yours and I, mine. But I believe that there is a standard by which all definitions should be judged by.

“Love is an absolute; it is perfect, it does not err. We often confuse trying to attain its perfection for an ultimate embodiment of it – quintessence – when it isn’t. For as long as you fail at it, you are still trying to understand and live it. You’re not complete yet.” sadantes 2012

Sometimes it may be best to tell someone, “I’m loving you” instead of “I love you”. For love is completion and perfection. With it comes attributes such as patience and understanding, long suffering, forgiveness and kindness. Love does not purposefully do wrong and does not keep record of wrongs. That means that if one decides to cheat willfully, her/she has not learned to love. And likewise, if the one who is cheated on is unable to forgive and/or move onwards whether together or apart, then he/she too doesn’t know or understand love.

Merely uttering the words ‘I love you’ to someone does not mean you love them truly. Being totally attracted to someone does not mean you love them either. It is natural to desire someone in a sexual way, especially as a teenager when hormones rage. Often times, what teenagers believe is love is only the natural process of developing. During the teen stage, lust is so strong that the average male or female believes that the novel desires and passions felt are the ultimate embodiment of love. The physical attributes which accompany these emotions, like butterflies in the tummy, are all part of growing and dealing with teenage hormonal imbalances.

Now, when teenagers are unable to satisfy particular desires or deal properly with emotional and physical changes in their body, they often make poor choices; sometimes as  result of external factors like pressure or internal ones like poor self-esteem. Whatever the reasons, teens do travel dangerous roads in decision making. Some repercussions to poor decisions are undesirable endings like teenage pregnancy, or horrific ones like teen suicide.

The problem with society is that most times both parents are not there to speak to teens about the challenges of growing up and dealing with changes in their bodies. Teens are often left alone to accept council from educational institutions or other mediums of education or educating on how to deal with issues like attraction and sex. Parents usually are unable or incapable of addressing those issues for varying reasons like shame, ignorance, fear, intimidation, etc.

In the absence of parents or guardians, it is wise for there to be a confidant who can discuss the struggles and challenges of life with a teen, and in the process, help him/her to differentiate the difference between love and lust. This may help reduce the frequency of which teens lose their virginity as well as how young they are when it is lost. As a result, social ills such as teen pregnancy and psychological ailments can also be reduced.

I will end this discussion by presenting a poem I wrote:

Perfect Love
By Stephen A. Dantes

I was
A looking
For perfection in
An imperfect
A world
And
You came
And showed me
That imperfection
Is perfection
In an imperfect world

About the author:
Born in St. Lucia, Stephen A. Dantes left his career as a Mathematics teacher to explore his passion for performance poetry and writing. Having received a few awards for his work, he was the 2nd place winner in the “Spoken Word” category in the 2006 St. Lucia Annual National Arts Festival and was awarded “Most Requested Guest Performer” by the St. Lucia Writer’s Forum in 2010. Currently residing in Ontario, he continues to publish his poems and work on his next novel, a sequel to Is It Love?.

Raising Resilient Teen Girls

Raising Resilient Teen Girls
Five Tips to Combat Effects of Sexual Abuse
By: Kalyani Gopal, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

resiliant-teenOne in five girls in the United States is sexually abused each year.  Some do not disclose sexual abuse until they are much older.  These children find themselves in foster care if their parent does not protect them from ongoing harm.  The most common perpetrators are boyfriends, step-parents, and relatives, with 80% of the perpetrators being within the birth family.  Studies have shown that in the aftermath of sexual abuse, 50% of sexually abused girls later become juvenile delinquents, run away, are significantly more aggressive, engage in promiscuous activities when poverty is factored in, engage in drug related activities, can self-mutilate, have uncontrolled outbursts of rage, need to always be in control of situations, and become abusive towards boyfriends, or get into abusive relationships. Sexually abused children and teens also develop eating disorders, and have guilt, shame, anxiety and depression, and poor self-esteem.

So how can we make girls fight back and become resilient young teens?  How do we protect young girls and teach them the right ways of coping?

Here are the top five techniques that have worked very successfully in my practice with teen girls (www.thesupportivefosterparent.com):

• Develop Body Boundaries: Sexually abused girls tend to have poor body boundaries. TEACH body space, appropriate distance, hugging from the side, not pushing themselves into others’ in the front, and maintaining appropriate distance from males

• Teens and Dating: Sexually abused teens also either get victimized or become aggressive towards their dating partner.  Develop self-worth in young teens, teach them to respect their bodies, teach them about being a woman in this world and be a role model for your teen.  They learn from your actions, not just words.

• Manage Eating Disorders: Eating can be excessive with binging and purging, or refusal to eat at all.  Both forms are ways young girls attempt to control their environment.  This need to control comes from the helplessness and lack of control due to sexual abuse.  Food is a way that a young teen can exert power over adults and cause anxiety in others.  Anorexia and Bulimia are common with these teens.  To develop a healthy sense of control, provide your young teen with healthy foods, give her areas of her life over which she has control and allow her to make decisions about the foods she eats.  Making a fuss about how much she is eating is going to worsen the situation and strengthen the eating disorder instead of reducing it. Rather, make food fun, use humor at dinner and provide her with healthy childhood snacks she loved.  Creating a low tension environment with a relaxed family non-judgmental environment will gradually relax your young teen daughter and she will substitute food with activities that you have introduced her to in which she can exert control and feel empowered.

• Deal with Bouts of Rage: Intense rage reactions are fairly common in children with sexual abuse histories and they can sometimes get violent. Often they are misdiagnosed as being Bipolar and placed on medication to keep them calm.  However, their rage is a primitive reaction to the emotional trauma of sexual abuse and can be explosive.  What works for these teens is trauma therapy and most importantly predictability.  They dislike sudden changes, unpredictable actions, sudden changes in schedules, and power struggles more so than the average teen.  Allowing your teen time to regroup, holding her when she wants you to, and giving her space when she asks for it so that she can bolster her defenses will help her handle stress, get “unstuck” and cope with new situations better.  What will worsen this situation is forcing her to talk to you when she is not ready and forcing her to complete chores and engaging in a power struggle.

• How to Handle Panic Attacks: Bouts of anxiety with fear of choking up, nausea, trembling, fearing that the walls are closing in and that she is going to die are all too common for our sexually abused teen.  Create resilience by identifying the triggers that have caused the anxiety and combat these triggers by pairing them with healthy effective empowering activities. The negative effect of these triggers will disappear over time, and your teen will become resilient and strong.

About Dr. Kalyani Gopal: Dr. Kalyani Gopal is a licensed clinical psychologist with special interests in child sexual abuse assessment and treatment, attachment issues, and foster care assessment, adjustment and training. She serves on the Lake County, Ind., Child Protection and Child Fatality teams, and was the recipient of the Outstanding Service to Lake County award in 2004.