Q. My daughter is 11 and is the only one of her friends who has her period. She gets teased a lot, and she's horribly embarrassed. What can I do to help?
A. You're already doing something right if she felt comfortable enough to tell you what's going on. The first girl to get her period in a clique can stir up a lot of emotions among the other girls, who may be jealous and relieved, all at the same time. Girls often process these confusing feelings by targeting the person they think is causing the problem.
But knowing why someone is acting mean doesn't justify her bad behavior. Tell your daughter you're really sorry about the situation, and coach her to respond to her friends with something like, "Look, it's weird enough to get my period without being teased about it. I can't help that I got my period, and I can't control what you say. But it would be nice to have friends who'd make my life easier instead of harder. So please stop."
You can also use this as an opportunity to share some of your own experiences at this age—just don't describe it exclusively as the most wondrous, magical time in a woman's life because she'll tune out.
Originally published in the June 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.