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words, the monthly process of ovulation is begun. Synchronously with
the process of ovulation, there commences the monthly function of
menstruation. The breasts also increase in size, assume the
characteristic contour, develop their glandular substance, and become
capable of secreting milk for the use of any possible offspring.
During this period of development they are often very sensitive to the
touch or feel painful without being touched.
But not only the genital organs undergo growth and development--the
entire body participates in the process. The growth in height is the
most rapid at this period; the greatest growth takes place in the
limbs--legs and arms. The pelvis becomes broader, and the chest or
thorax also becomes broader and larger. The muscles become larger and
rounder and finally give the girl the beautiful womanly form.
=Psychic Changes.= But the changes are not only physical; the changes
that take place in the girl's psychic sphere during the pubertal years
are also highly important. That is the period of the development of
the emotions; she is overflowing with emotion; she becomes sensitive;
in her relations with boys and men she becomes self-conscious.
Distinct sexual desire fortunately does not make its appearance in the
girl at this period, as it does in the boy, but she becomes filled
with vague undefined and undefinable longings. It is the period of
"crushes" when the girl is apt to bestow her overflowing emotion on a
girl friend. There is nothing reprehensible in these crushes--they
act as a safety valve--and only in rare cases are they apt to lead to
abnormal development. This is also the period of day-dreaming and of
romancing; the girl likes to read love-stories and novels in which she
identifies herself with the heroine. And it makes quite some
difference as to what the girl reads during this period, for
literature has a strong influence on the young in the most plastic
period of their lives; and it is important that older persons see to
it that those in their care spend their time on books of noble ideals
and high artistic value.
Girls of a highly sensitive or so-called "nervous" temperament,
especially if there is "nervousness" in the family, must be
particularly looked after. For it is during the years of puberty and
adolescence that any neurotic traits are apt to develop and become
emphasized. It is also the period when bad sexual habits
(masturbation) are apt to develop, and the careful mother will devote
special attention to her girls in their years of puberty, and guard
them as much as possible against physical and emotional shocks.
The age of puberty in girls is by many writers considered as
synonymous or synchronous with the onset of menstruation, which in
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