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The Family Project: Acne a rite of passage for adolescents

Q: Our fifth-grade daughter is already struggling with bad acne. Is this normal? We are trying to get it under control, but how can we boost her confidence?

Acne is a rite of passage for adolescents and sometimes even pre-adolescents, said the Family Project panel. Although it may be upsetting, acne is a normal part of growing up.

“It is important to normalize this change,” said panelist Denise Continenza.

“Talk about biology and hormone changes. Emphasize this is a physical change and not her fault,” Continenza said.

“Help her research treatment and learn what she can and can’t control,” said panelist Chad Stefanyak.

“Frame it that she is becoming an adult faster than her classmates. Don’t minimize it and reassure her it is normal.” Stefanyak said.

There are many treatments for acne available and you can help her decide which one is best suited for her and her skin. If it gets too bad, consult a dermatologist, the panel said.

“Acceptance by peers is everything at this age,” said Continenza.

“Adolescents live in the here and now, so let her know it will pass. Help her focus on other positive aspects of her life,” Continenza said.

“Also, remind her that acne will eventually happen to her peers, as well, and she just started early,” said panelist Pam Wallace.

“Arm her with responses if classmates say something about her acne,” Stefanyak said.

“Kids can be mean. Give her a tool, something she can say such as ‘I’m just growing up faster,’’’ Stefanyak said.

Continenza suggested practicing or role-playing with her to try out responses.

She also could explore school programs designed to boost confidence in young girls like “Girls on the Run,” panelists suggested.

Girls on the Run, a national non-profit organization, help strengthen third- to eighth grade girls’ social, emotional, physical and behavioral skills and is available in most area school districts.

Also be aware if this is more of an issue for your daughter or you.

Stefanyak asked, “Is she saying something or is it an issue for parents?”

“Sometimes, parents’ perceptions are different than kids’ perceptions,” agreed Continenza.

However, it is not bad being proactive, the panelists agreed.

This week’s panel: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor, and Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist.

Have a question? Email: projectchild@projectchildlv.org

The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health-care provider, with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.