As parents, we may cringe inside at the first sight of pimples on that sweet little face and want to jump to her rescue, but parenting through puberty is such a balancing act.
- Do you say anything or not?
- Do you just leave some acne wash by her sink and hope she discovers it?
- Do you calmly suggest a skin care routine without letting your eyes stray to her pimples?
You desperately want to help her avoid the self-esteem impact of acne, but you also need to avoid the emotional crisis that could erupt by pointing out her skin flaws. 🌋
As a mom, I’ve walked on those eggshells. But as I began to apply my doctoring skills at home, things got a little easier.
Here's a Pro-tip: As a doctor for adolescents, we’re trained to make observations and ask questions non-judgmentally. If we let our emotions show – like awkwardness, worry, or reluctance – they absorb those emotions, magnify them, and often add a dash of anger to the whole situation. But when we stay calm and non-judgmental with our voice and our body language, they respond to us with more honesty and less angst (this applies to ANY discussions with adolescents, and it takes a lot of practice!).
Back to her skin: When it comes to adolescent acne, there’s a progression that’s pretty typical as puberty begins:
- oily skin,
- then, some progress into full-blown acne, some don't.
So, you know it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. Gee thanks, hormones 🙄
How do you have the conversation?
Try something like this, “I notice you have some blackheads and a few pimples. Do they bother you?” The key is showing NO emotion or facial expression to indicate pity, concern, or worry. In this type of situation, if you can be like a blank piece of paper with a Yes or No checkbox ✅ you’ll be less likely to set off an emotional melt-down.
If her answer is a solid “No” or she seems totally clueless, just move on and make no other comments other than something along the lines of, “Cool, if that changes, just let me know.” If SHE isn’t bothered by her skin issues, there's no point in YOU trying to make her follow a skin care routine. She has no motivation, and she'll think your suggestions are annoying or insulting.
If her answer is anything else, “Sort of,” “Not really,” “A little,” or (as my drama-tween answered, “Omigosh YES!!! Is it horrible?!” then she'll be more willing to listen and actually follow some steps to manage her new skin changes.
When that time is here, there are very simple and effective skin care routines that work well. You don't need expensive products or a long checklist of steps. For our favorite dermatologist recommended treatments, members can check out these resources:
For parents and girls: Best tips for managing acne when it first starts!
For girls: Essential Skin Care
Did you know Girlology has grade-by-grade video on demand playlists to support her and you — on topics like this and lots others? Learn More