The National Parenting Center

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Teenage Acne





A mother in New Jersey wrote to me recently concerned about her son’s acne. It had reached such a heightened level of severity that he refused to leave the house. She was desperate for ideas to help her son.

I told her that whatever she does, don’t respond by telling him “Everyone your age has that problem,” or “It doesn’t matter; it will go away eventually.” When you say it doesn’t matter, you are saying his feelings about it don’t matter either. You are discounting his feelings instead of allowing and respecting them. Kids want to know that you really understand just how ugly and terrible they feel.
Start by sharing some of your own memories. Talk to him about a time you felt ugly or embarrassed as a teen. Help him really see you as a teen that felt lousy about yourself. Then gently point out that if he looks around instead of in the mirror he will see that over half of his friends have the same problem he does, and undoubtedly feel the same way.
When he is really listening, mention that skin problems are normal and that they are not permanent. During adolescence nearly every part of the body is temporarily affected by hormone changes. The skin, as our body’s largest organ, is vulnerable and most often affected.
He also needs to know that eating right, drinking water and keeping clean will help, as will safe, over-the-counter remedies. A trip to the dermatologist might also be considered.
If he has a computer and is on line, there is a web page that provides information on acne and skin problems. He can check it out at http://www.derminfo-net.com/ddc/acnenet
Finally, be sure your kid knows you care about who he is as a PERSON, not just his appearance. When you pay compliments, don’t use generalizations like “cool” “smart” or “nice.” All children, no matter what their age, need to hear specifics about what you think makes them special, capable or lovable.
Describe his energy or his sense of humor. Praise his persistence or creativity, or the unique way he perceives things, or his ability to make other people feel at ease. Children need to feel good about ALL the things that make them unique, NOT just their appearance. Give your teen the real meaning of the words “Beauty is only skin deep”.


Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. 

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