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Leilei
Leilei asks:
Q:

How do I help my 10 year old deal with low self esteem brought on by early onset of puberty?

My daughter entered puberty at the tender age of 9. She will turn 11 in about 9 days and she is extremely self conscious of her appearance. She is at least 6 inches taller than her tallest classmate and overweight. In school, she refuses to do anything that might draw attention to her including participating in class or asking questions. She wears a hoodie all day (even when it is warm) and scrunches down in her seat with the hood up trying to "be invisible". She reports that classmates tease her constantly about her size, her breast development and her thick, curly hair. It is at a point where she is in tears after school every day and is now asking to be homeschooled or take online classes. I work fulltime and I don't know how well this would work as it would interfere with opportunities to socialize with her peers. I don't want her becoming agoraphobic (I think that is the term for folks who won't leave their homes out of fear of others) but I also hate to see her miserable everyday. Help!
In Topics: Parenting / Our Family, Self esteem and identity, Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Monika
Dec 7, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

First, I think that you should see a counselor as soon as possible.  Sounds like your daughter might be depressed.

Second, you must talk to the school authorities regarding bullying.  They need to be aware and they must take steps to prevent that asap.  Bullying is a serious matter!

Third, address your daughter's concerns about her overweight.  There is nothing that can be done about one's height.  However, assuming that your daughter is healthy, she can do much about her weight.

Forth, focus on your daughter's strengths.  What is she good at?  Perhaps, she could participate in an after school activity that would allow her develop her skills in a certain area.

Suggested readings:

Encouraging high self-esteem

http://www.pluggedinparents.com/component/content/article/442

Your child's self-esteem starts with you

http://www.pluggedinparents.com/component/content/article/768

Relieving childhood stress

http://www.pluggedinparents.com/component/content/article/550

Precocious puberty

http://www.pluggedinparents.com/component/content/article/620

Bullying

http://www.pluggedinparents.com/component/content/article/691

Healthy weight basics

http://www.pluggedinparents.com/component/content/article/567
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Additional Answers (2)

Korinna Props Berry
I also encourage counseling.  I am no expert but I am a mother and a former teacher.  I too, have a daughter that has low self esteem and hers was brought on by weight and neglect by her father.  The doctor is right when they mentioned notifying the school about bullying.  This is not a tolerated behavior and it must be stopped.

One thing I did with my daughter was discuss in detail what is making her feel so low.  Because puberty is coming on so quickly, she is obviously very uncomfortable about her body.  Maybe you can discuss these changes with her and help her find a way to appreciate the wonderful ways her body is changing and be proud of them.  Another thing is, find out what she loves to do and make a big deal out of it.  For example, my daughter loves to paint when she needs to relax.  I encouraged this by buying her the items and giving her the relaxing time to engage.  Have her start a friendship ring- the friends she has, have them come over and each one pick a day and participate in the things they like to do and by the time they have gone around the ring, they will have tried all kinds of new stuff.

Finally, if she is conscience about her weight that is a good start.  She knows she wants to be healthy but maybe she just needs steered in the right direction.  Encourage her to dance in her room or go skating or take a walk- better yet, take a walk with her.  Take the dog to the park and just let her walk and she will eventually open up and the best thing you can do is listen.  I found that my daughter just really wanted trust and understanding without judgement.

I have attached a couple articles for you.  I wish you much love and success.

Korinna Props-Berry

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schimmelpfenning
schimmelpfe... writes:
I feel for you as a parent and for your daughter.  I also matured early in grade school.  I was always taller than everyone else, even the teacher.  My perception of how I looked was scewed by what my petite friends looked like and what boys said about me.  Something I think might of helped me when I look back now is if I had professional photographs that showed my true appearance. Advice from a beautician on ways to cut and fix your daughter's hair and a tween magazine with fashion ideas may help.  Remember it is a stage and she will grow out of it, when the rest of her classmates start to catch up.
> 60 days ago

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