Pierce Talks

Your guide to the ages and stages of development

For a young teen, piercing is much more than a simple fashion statement. To your child, a piercing is an outward expression that says, "I'm growing up and making decisions on my own, even if they offend you." It's a normal part of the maturing process.

With that in mind, try to approach your child's desire to pierce in a rational way. The idea of body piercing will lose much of its appeal if you remain calm and unoffended when your child talks to you about it.

If your young teen is begging to pierce a body part, it's important to talk together about the following factors:

? Passing fads Remind your child about other fads and trends that are no longer in style. Explain that while last year's flared pants can easily be exchanged for this year's capris, a piercing is a physical change that's more difficult to discard when the trend changes.

? Health concerns It takes a long time for the body to heal from a piercing. Ears usually take 4 to 6 weeks, but other piercings ? like those in the navel ? can take up to an entire year. According to an article in the July 2000 Journal of the American Dental Association, piercing the lips and tongue can lead to health complications like mouth infections, tooth damage and difficulties with speech. Body piercing of any kind also increases the risk of hepatitis and aids (if unsterile needles are used).

? Appearance Ask your child how he wants people to view him. Talk about the impact a pierced tongue or eyebrow might have on that perception. Talk about other ways he might express his individualism and independence: through writing, his choice in clothing, even a part-time job.

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