Tomboyishness not a problem if daughter is happy

TOTS TO TEENS

May 24, 1994|By Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe | Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe,Special to The Sun

Q: My 11-year-old daughter is a real tomboy. She likes to dress casually, hangs around boys and really doesn't have many girlfriends. Should I be concerned?

A: As long as your daughter seems happy, is doing well at school and does not complain or appear concerned about her choice of friends and activities, you can be reassured that she is quite all right. Her decision to hang around boys likely reflects the fact that -- a this point in her life, she finds their activities challenging and in line with her own interests. Being a tomboy at age 11, however, does not indicate that she will continue to share these same interests as she gets older nor does it imply that she will be "manly" when she reaches adulthood. It is impossible to predict what she will be like in the future as she progresses through adolescence and beyond.

While there is likely a genetic basis to various aspects of our personality, much of our identify is shaped by the social world around us. Parents, siblings, schools and religious groups, among others, all influence who we are. As your daughter ages, she will encounter a variety of new challenges and individuals.As a result, her personality will likely continue to evolve even if she does not become less of a tomboy, however, you should resist the impulse to say or do anything about it. If you attempt to consciously change or shape her behavior, she will quickly sense that you do not approve of her.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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