At 12, kids want to be just like their friends. What happens when your child's biological clock ticks a bit faster?

October 05, 2005

Q: My 11-year-old is starting to develop physically, and she doesn't like it. She wears baggy clothes and hunches over to hide her breasts. Is there anything I can say to reassure her?

A: "The best way to help your daughter is to acknowledge what you see happening," comments Marilyn Benoit, M.D., president-elect of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. "Talk to her about how a girl's body develops during puberty, and say you've noticed that hers is starting to change." Reassure her that this is a completely natural process, and let her know that anytime she has a question about what's happening, you're there to help.

And don't be shy about the subject of sexuality. "Girls who are developing may get recognition from boys, which can be scary and confusing," says Dr. Benoit. By being open and positive, you can help her realize that her development is not something to fear.