Kids should think twice before picking on early maturing girls or late maturing boys in their class. A new study links violent conduct in schools to some students’ timing in puberty.
According to University of Florida researchers, children who go through puberty at different times then most of their peers, can react more violently to stressful events. Previous studies have already shown that those early or late maturing kids often have more emotional issues than their peers, but they can also react more aggressively to peer pressure and stress in general.
Julia Graber/UF Psychology Researcher: “The early maturing girls who also had high rates of peer stress were the ones who were more aggressive; both in terms of indirect methods like spreading rumors about other children, or things like that, and also threats and physical aggression, as well as late maturing boys. So those off-time boys who were sort of slow to get started on puberty when they experience peer stress they really, really didn’t deal with it well.”
Experts say parents with kids who get picked on, should help their sons and daughters learn better ways of dealing with these experiences, rather then getting worked up or aggressive and acting out just like their own kids.
Julia Graber/UF Psychology Researcher: “Simple emotion kind of regulation activities, learning how to take a deep breath and calm down and think about the situation a little bit more clearly are often really helpful. If there seems to be a persistent problem certainly working with local schools is very important to find out what teachers and principals are doing within your school to deal with problems where kids may be harassed.”
UF psychologists say often time kids are not having more stress, it’s the way they respond that is more aggressive. Early maturing girls often have poor coping skills, while late maturing boys build extra defense mechanisms.