Body Changes Cause Self-consciousness

This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on Apr 12, 2017

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Question: My 10 year old has developed breasts before any other girl in her class. She is getting teased about it (kids saying she stuffs her bra). She is very self-conscious and has started wearing baggy shirts and sweatshirts. How can I help her feel better about herself and not feel self-conscious?

Answer: While we are delighted to see our children hit the milestones toward adulthood, it is difficult to watch them be challenged, especially by their own bodies. Puberty is awkward. Some girls develop breasts early, some quite late (and they get teased also). The best you can do is to allow her freedom to be comfortable as she changes and to choose the clothes she wants to wear. Soon all the other girls will catch up and she won’t feel all alone. Sharing your own experiences during this time of life might also help to normalize her feelings. Remind her that everyone in her class has something about themselves that makes them uncomfortable. Some may feel too tall, too short, too fat, too thin…sometimes it is something that can’t be seen; she is not alone in her discomfort. The point is that this situation will pass. Your job is to help her grow to love her healthy body (breasts and all); she is going to need it going forward! There is a helpful book for girls called My Body Myself by Lynda Madaras. There is one written for boys as well.

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website and click on “Referrals.”

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