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by Abigail Van Buren

Girls Active in Sports Reap Benefits for Life

DEAR ABBY: My daughter "Beth" is in a variety of sports -- basketball, soccer, etc. Even though she's not a great athlete, she sometimes scores and always enjoys herself.

My parents went to one of Beth's games and seemed disappointed that she wasn't one of the best scorers on the team. This bothered me, but I never said anything. They never went to another game.

Today I received a call from my mother, who hinted that I should take Beth out of any sports that she is not so good in. Abby, Beth is only 9 years old, and my feeling has always been that as long as she wanted to play the sport and tried her best, then we'd stick with it.

I never had half the courage my daughter has as far as starting new sports and events with new people -- and now I think I know why. I'd be grateful to hear your opinion on this. -- ANONYMOUS IN BOSTON

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Your mother's thinking is outdated. Involvement in team sports is not only a means of staying in shape, it also helps girls gain self-confidence and self-esteem. Physically active adolescent girls have a good time, improve their body image and feel better about themselves. Starting early is important.

I consulted Linda Feltes, public relations director for the Melpomene Institute for Women's Health Research, a non-profit membership-based organization that helps girls and women of all ages link physical activity and health through research, publication and education. She told me that a University of Virginia study has shown that if a girl doesn't participate in sports by the age of 10, there is only a 10 percent chance she will be physically active by the time she is 25.

Continue to encourage your daughter's participation in sports. She is forming a healthy habit that will probably last a lifetime.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing this in bed, crying. Something is wrong with me. My "attacks" started almost seven months ago. I can't control them and sometimes when I get them, I feel like I'm going to faint or die. I get dizzy, feel like I can't breathe or swallow, and have numb hands and feet. Abby, they are controlling my life and I can't take it.

Sometimes I just want to die because no one knows about these attacks, not even my parents. (I'm in seventh grade.) I'm afraid to tell them because they'll think I'm crazy and take me to a doctor.

I have heard of panic attacks, and I think that might be what I have, since my attacks usually happen in crowded places, when I talk in school or when my hands are restricted -- like at the dentist.

Abby, is this all in my head? What's wrong with me? -- TERRIFIED IN TOPEKA

DEAR TERRIFIED: Regardless of the cause, your symptoms are real. They are not "all in your head," and you are not "crazy." However, only a medical doctor can determine what causes them. I urge you to confide in your parents. Tell them Abby said it's time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Whether your attacks are physical or emotional in origin, there is help for you. Please don't procrastinate any longer.

CHUCKLE FOR TODAY: A man came into a bar and ordered three shots of whiskey, which he quickly drank, one after the other. When he finished the last one, he ordered three more.

The bartender said, "You know, that isn't good for you."

"I know," the man replied, "particularly with what I have."

"What do you have?" the bartender asked.

"One dollar," the man replied. -- LORETTA YALOWITZ, LAKEWOOD, CALIF.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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