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Positive parenting skills benefit early starters

Puberty can be a difficult time for young people, as they battle with raging hormones and changing body shapes. This can be particularly true for girls who go through puberty early and therefore stand out among their peers.

Fathers may be tempted to stand back from this potential minefield, but a new study has found that the right parenting skills can make a world of difference to girls’ behavior at this awkward time in life.

Researchers at the University of Alabama have published a report in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that notes early development in girls is related to delinquency, behavioral problems and substance use, negative traits that then continue in their adult life.

They found that this problem was exacerbated by low levels of parental nurturance, communication and knowledge.

"By listening to their daughters’ difficulties and providing support and encouragement, nurturing parents can help them develop better coping skills and diffuse negative emotions that might otherwise manifest as aggression," the authors wrote.

Earlier research has shown that girls who have a good relationship with their father are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors.