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My daughter is getting really worried. She is almost 14 and still hasn’t really grown much. All of her friends tower over her. Is this normal?

Many girls take some time to develop and if your daughter is just 14 years of age I would not be too worried. As long as she is getting good nutrition and is still just skeletally immature, her time will come. Some girls begin to develop at 10 while her best friend may be 15 before she really hits puberty. However, if your daughter is showing any signs of restrictive or binge eating, is losing weight or has any of the other signs of disordered eating, it may be wise to have her assessed by a medical professional. It is very important not to base any progressions in ballet on age due to this discrepancy between age and developmental stages. This is especially true when it comes to progressing onto pointe. Many parents and teachers ask what age is best for starting pointe work; however this can be a very tricky situation. Occasionally a 13 year old may have the bones of a 10 year old, while her little sister at 11 may be more skeletally mature. It is a hard lesson for the girls to learn, but an important one, in that sometimes things don’t happen when we want them to. A slow-to-develop 13 year old is much better to focus her training on improving strength and technique and will be much stronger starting en pointe, than to be put up while her bones are still immature and run the risk of damaging her feet for life.

However, if a child is approaching 15 and still has not grown and does not have her periods, I would definitely seek medical opinion. Many dancers are very lean, and may not drop into a regular menstrual cycle when they are doing intense training. This has the potential to have a big influence in how much calcium she is laying down in her bones, so it is best to be checked on before she gets any older.

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