Suri Cruise really started this, ya know? Maybe not the act of children wearing high heels and make-up, but given her fame, she definitely started the media and public debate over what is too much, too soon.
And even though I got totally worked up about Toddlers and Tiaras,Â I’ve never really paid much attention to what Suri was doing…I’m not her mom and I have my own kids to worry about. But then, the other day, we saw a little girl that we know very well. She is all of six-year-old, and she was out with her friends playing…when I stopped to say “hello” to her, I realized that she was wearing powder, metallic lip gloss, and dangling earrings. And when I say dangling, I mean, I wouldn’t have worn them for fear they’d catch on something.
For whatever reason, this got my undies in a bunch. Maybe because I care about this little girl…maybe because I’m staring 13 in the face with my oldest and realize how quickly they’re forced to grow up once they start middle school.
My personal belief is that kids need time to be kids. I’m not sure when our sudden obsession with making them in to mini-adults started…do you know? And how do we stop it?
I know some parents that try to shelter their kids from it. No television, no movies. Only specific toys. But I don’t necessarily think this is the answer either. What happens when they start school with more kids than not that are fully away of TV-land…do they become more socially awkward?
Though I would take socially awkward over teenager-trapped-in-a-kindergartener’s body any day.
So what can we do to keep our kids age-appropriate? I feel more pressured than ever to answer this question given we have a toddler that idolizes her teenage sister.
Set Reasonable Expectations…And Stick to Them
One thought…dress-up is only for home, right? So how about we keep a big old-fashioned dress up box, filled with “fancy” clothes, hats, and shoes, right smack in the middle of the living room? “Sure you can wear high-heels! But when we go outside, we’re putting our Converse back on.”
Limit the Shows They’re Watching on Television
At almost-13, the big battle we have with our oldest is why she can’t watch Jersey Shore. “But all my friends get to watch it! When I go to so-and-so’s house, we stay up all night and watch it.” In my head I’m thinking, “Thanks for letting me know that because now I’m probably not going to let you go over there anymore,” but what I say is, “That’s terrific! But since you’re currently at our house, you won’t be watching it.”
With our youngest, it’s a battle over Ni Hao Kai-Lan. But that’s not so bad. I do worry about later on though. We can set parental controls on the television, but is it worth investing in something like the Peel Remote so that any television offerings are tailored to our preferences for her?
Telling Our Kids They’re Smart and Beautiful, Every. Single. Day.
I often wonder if the obsession with growing up too fast is in part because girls (and I don’t intentionally leave boys out of the mix here, but I think they are less affected by this particular situation) associate being beautiful with being thin, scantily-clad, and fully made-up. So maybe just reminding our kids that they are absolutely smart, strong, and beautiful every day will help. Maybe.
What are your thoughts? How do you curb kids’ enthusiasm for make-up and fancy shoes? How do you satisfy their need to look like “a big girl” when they’re still so young?
photo credit: frerieke