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Piercing Pressure

Your daughter's campaign to have her ears pierced may start any day now: "But I am too old enough  -- and Marcy just had hers done last week..."

While she may be determined, be sure she's also responsible enough to care for her pierced ears, says Linda Sonna, Ph.D., author of The Everything Tween Book.

Other points to ponder:

Choose the venue wisely. Most kids do get pierced at the mall, but a doctor's office is the safer, more sanitary choice.

Be prepared for any reaction. Piercing is performed with a needle or needle gun, and you can expect a bit of blood. Though the anticipation is often worse than the actual discomfort caused, every girl has a different level of pain tolerance.

Explain the aftercare. To avoid infection, the area around the wounds will need to be cleaned twice daily with rubbing alcohol for several weeks. She'll have to wear studs for up to six weeks, and twist them to prevent sticking. If your kid still needs to be reminded to brush her teeth, tell her she has to wait a little longer.

Insist that one piercing is plenty. Holes punched in the upper ear cartilage heal poorly and can easily become infected.