“My daughter is 11, and all she wants it to fit in. I know her alopecia makes her feel different. How can I help her?”

maddie1

Question: My daughter is 11 years old and has AA since she was 2. She is having a hard time now that she going to a junior high school. She is ok with her school, but she is getting depressed and I’m very worried. She wants to fit in, and to just be herself, but she is scared and confused. The school community, teachers and kid all know about her alopecia. We sent an email explaining the condition, and she has not been bullied or treated different, but she feels out of place and in constant pain. It is hard to see your kid with so much pain.  Any advice would be most helpful.

Irene, Los Angeles, CA

Answer: Irene, I am so sorry for what you and your daughter are going through. I know it is so hard to see them in pain. I want you to know that it sounds like you are doing everything right-everything my husband and I did. You have educated the school and community about your daughter’s alopecia, and your genuine concern about her is both normal and admirable.  Try not to worry so much. Eleven can be a tough age especially when you are concerned about fitting in. I have a 12 year old daughter who has the same concerns, and she does not have alopecia. I want to tell you that while you are right that Maddie is doing very well, she also has her days and moments just like any teenager. One thing about Maddie though that is different is that she does not try to fit in. She is very creative and artistic where her sisters and close friends are more athletic and involved in sports. Maddie marches to the beat of her own drum. She doesn’t try to be something she is not for the sake of popularity. She embraces her differences.  Is there something that your daughter excels in, a sport, or an art, academics maybe? I would focus on that. Help her find what she is good at — what makes her different in a good way. And just support her. Remind her that she is beautiful with or without hair. That is so important, and I can tell you are already doing that.  It would help her also to meet other kids with alopecia and to know she is not alone. Please let me know what else I can do to help.

About the Author
Betsy is the Executive Director of CAP and the mother of four daughters: Helena 16, Maddie 14, Sofie 12, and Mimi 8. She and her husband Jeff founded CAP in 2004 when Maddie was diagnosed with alopecia at age 5. Betsy likes to read, to run, and to spend time with her family and friends. She feels blessed to live in a wonderful community where much of her family still live, to send her children to her alma maters where they are truly happy, and to have a job where she can help grateful people each and every day.
7 Comments
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  3. Mariana Reply

    Hi Irene, my name is Mariana and I have a little sister she’s 11 years old, she’s living whit me and sometimes is really hard for me, and next school year she’s goin to middle school and I’m just praying for her to be OK sometimes she gets really upset because she says that she doesn’t have any friends and I don’t know what to do. And I was thinking if your daughter will like to be her friend and maybe one day they can get to know each other.

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  6. Martha Reply

    Any suggestions for what product my grandson could wear on his head during the summer months so he can tan safely. He is 12 and loves outdoors sports – but he got sunburned and now it is peeling He liked that his face and head is the same color (not like when he wears his cap). We are lookiing for a product that blocks the sun, tans but is kind to his alopecia.

    Blessings, .

    • betsy Reply

      Martha, Maddie wears sunblock all of the time. She too had a bad sunburn this year for the first time in years, but usually sunblock is sufficient for her. I think, like you said, that a hat would cause his face and head to be different colors.

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