Sometimes Dr. Vanessa Neves, a pediatrician with North County Health Services, offers a more professional opinion at the bottom of Lauren’s column. When an 11-year-old writes in about her first period and her awkward bodily changes, Neves gives the kind of sound, but boring advice grown-ups are known for. “Even though you can’t control the changes in your body, you CAN take charge of your health by eating right, getting plenty of rest and exercising daily.”
Lauren’s feedback is less medical but more practical: while you’re freaking out about your changing body, wear layers and deodorant. Those two tactics are quick fixes during bouts of hormonal hell and the self-consciousness that comes with it, she says in more tween-like language. (It’s good advice for bad PMS days too.) She’s also found the real silver lining in this whole 11-year-old first period over summer break situation.
“You might not think this, but getting your period in the summer is the best time. It would be much worse for it to start in class one day when you aren’t ready,” writes Lauren.
Dr. Neves may know more about how the body operates, but Lauren knows more about how people operate, especially the difficult ones.
Take copy-cats, a term that can apply to an insecure pre-teen or a serial monogamist who assumes his partner’s identity in every new relationship. It’s “annoying,” as one concerned 9-year-old puts it.
Lauren’s approach is at first diplomatic: “You could tell her it bothers you, and that when she copies you, you don’t feel unique anymore. Then just ask her to stop. If she does, then great. But if she doesn’t, then she really isn’t taking what you are saying seriously and respecting your feelings.”
Next she offers a more strategically deceptive approach: “If you go shopping together, you can pick something out for a sibling or someone else and then if your friend copies it, it won’t be you she’s copying! Then you buy what you like on a different shopping trip with your mom or dad.”
Forget psychology; Lauren’s on the fast track to becoming a political strategist.