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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Preteen PMS - What is a Parent To Do?

Recently I have had several conversations with parents who are just at their wits end with preteens who seem to be experiencing PMS symptoms before they are actually having periods. Their 11- and 12-year old daughters are having headaches or extremely emotional (e.g., getting tearful, angry, sad, or irritated - the bite your head off kind of irritated) on a regular basis.

That is the key - "on a regular basis." Many people may not know that for about a year before preteens actually start having periods their hormones are cycling. This gives all the emotional and physical feelings of menstruation without the evidence (or relief) of the actual period. On top of that, preteens may just not understand why they are having emotions that feel completely intense and uncontrollable.

Parents can help. It is time to have a longer chat about PMS and menstruation, prepare a period pack they can keep with them, and I suggest you print an annual calendar and keep track of the headache and uber-emotional days with little dots - or colors - to help your daughter see the "pattern" and start understanding how her cycle works.

Coping strategies my own daughters liked included chocolate, the one-use heating pads that you wrap around your belly, and you can even try Midol (if there is no contraindication to diuretic use) even if they are not having a period. For the parent, when your daughter bites your head off - stop, shake your head, laugh if you can, and yell "get the chocolate" - you are not going to win!

Photo Credit: mamamusings
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.