Q: What do you say to a 12-year-old girl who's feeling bad because all of her friends' bodies are maturing while hers is not?
A: Whatever you do, don't say, "Don't worry. It's not your body but your personality that counts," says Robin Goldstein, a child development specialist based in North Potomac, MD. "No 12-year-old will believe what you say. Children this age desperately want to be just like their friends." Instead, be sympathetic and listen to your daughter's concerns.
Explain to your child that she and her friends are entering puberty, a stage of development that brings with it a lot of bodily changes. Tell her that in some kids these changes happen slowly. Reassure her that she will eventually catch up with her friends. Then you can tell her things that will help her appreciate that she's more than just a body, says Goldstein. Above all, help her to feel that she's always a wonderful daughter, an enthusiastic athlete, a loyal friend.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.