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When Puberty Comes Early

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I am almost 11. I got my period when I was nine and my bra size is a 34c. Nobody I know my age is maturing as quickly as I am. Why is this happening to me? Some kids even make fun of my bra size. They say it makes me look fat and ugly. Sometimes I think it's true. My friends say I am pretty and they say they wish they would mature as quickly as me. I don't know why this is only happening to me. Can I make it stop some way?

A: First, let me say that it sounds as though you have a healthy body and some good friends. That's a good start! I'm sure that your friends are absolutely right when they say that you are pretty.

As for those kids who make fun of your bra size and tell you that you look "fat and ugly," are these kids whose opinions should be important to you? I know that hearing anything negative about one's body is not pleasant, especially at your age, but my guess is that the same kids who are making negative statements about you are also making statements about other kids as well. In other words, these kids somehow are so down on themselves or insecure about their own self-worth that they put other kids down as a way to feel more powerful. Try to let their negativity slide right off you and, if you can, forgive them for their insecurity.

My sister also got her period young and developed large breasts soon after. She got the same treatment you're receiving. As boys took more notice of my sister, her girlfriends became jealous of her breast development. Some of the girls even called her names. This was a tough time for her, as I am sure it is for you.

You have nothing to be ashamed about or to apologize for because your body matured earlier than usual. Your body has not caught up with your breasts, but it will. In the meantime, you might want to consider asking trusted older women family members or adult women friends to help you purchase bras that minimize the appearance of your breasts.

I can't tell you that your maturing early won't result in unwanted comments and attention. But I will tell you that things will get better as you continue to grow. You have a healthy, strong body. Feed it well, keep it active and listen to those friends who know and like you for who you are, not the size of your chest. Thanks for writing.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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