imagesMy winter break vacation was one long Turning Teen workshop. Fortunately I didn’t mind since I love talking to other parents about the complicated life of pubertal tweens. There were about twenty families at this family resort, all with kids mostly between the ages of 5-12. Therefore, I would’ve expected nothing less than constant conversation on Turning Teen topics. The following are just some of the real scenarios from vacation (names changed for privacy).   

“Should we tell Zoe that she smells? Do you think she knows she has bad body odor?”

I overheard a group of girls talking about this. Since Zoe had a parent with her, I told the group of concerned friends that I would handle the issue. I applauded the kids for not offending Zoe or embarrassing her in front of her peers. After a little bit of courage (even pediatrician adolescent experts need courage sometimes!), I privately discussed with Zoe’s parents that Zoe had noticeable body odor. I suggested a simple solution: encourage  her to shower and wear a clean shirt so Zoe could avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation with her friends. The conversation went well, and problem was solved by the next day.  

“My daughter got her period for the first time and refuses to acknowledge it. She won’t wear a pantiliner or pad….just keeps changing her underwear!”

This situation is real and does happen. Some girls aren’t ready to accept their body changes, or aren’t comfortable enough with their body to comfortably take care of their bodies. Maybe she thinks she is the first of her friends to menstruate and embarrassed to be seen with feminine products at school or their houses. Ask some of her friend’ moms’ if their daughters have gotten their periods – this could be an example of positive peer pressure. Make sure she has access to all of the teen-friendly pads that are slim and more comfortable. Is she willing to try a tampon instead? Prepare her that she could bleed through her clothes and end up in an embarrassing situation at school. Do your best not to be negative about her choice or cause any shame about her menstrual habits – we need to move into the positive direction! In the meantime, start simple. Just try having some private, meaningful talks about other things.  And then about her body. And eventually about taking care of her changing body. In the meantime, perhaps buy her a few pair of period panties ( and a book to use as a reference!

“I’m so worried. I think my younger daughter is going to go through puberty before my older daughter.”

This can happen. And can be normal. Just like they have different personalities, different favorite colors and different shoe sizes, their hormone control center can be programmed different too! I would definitely prepare them both with the same information, and particularly that puberty starts for some at 8 years old, and others at 14! But whenever puberty happens – it will be on time for their body!

Come to a Turning Teen Workshop. We talk about real issues. We help make parenting easier during the overwhelming tween and teen years!

Next workshops are January 10 at the Bloomfield Public Library ( and February 5 at the Quarton Elementary School Media Center (Register through Birmingham Community Education at