Tweens are growing up so fast these days, nine year olds are conscious of their weight, there are even eleven year olds getting bikini waxes. In fact, many girls this age are negatively influenced by what they see and believe that the shows depict reality.Everywhere tweens look, they are affronted with messages about what their appearance and behaviour should be. And many of these messages are far from positive.Tweens and teens are using media of all kinds more than ever before.
Types of commonly used media includes: television, magazines, computers, movies, smart phones, iPods, video games, music and social media networks. Tweens and teenagers can consume almost eight hours of media per day. They can be engaged with more than one form of media at a time, for instance listening to music while doing their homework on the computer and instant-messaging a friend at the same time.One of the main problems with this level of media exposure is that kids are exposed to negative messages. Tweens are an important corner of the culture when it comes to marketing. At this age, 8-12 year olds are not children, yet they are not adults. They dismiss being identified as ‘little kids’ and yet rely on their parents for almost everything. Your tween is just as likely to roll her eyes at you one minute and the next to jump into your lap as she did when she was five. Children of this age are trying to figure out who they are and are busy developing the image they want to portray. This makes them easy prey for the media, which hones in on the tweens desire to be ‘grown-up’. Parents are often under the impression that tweens are able to decipher the messages and determine what is healthy and positive versus what is negative and potentially harmful. However, children of this age are not mature enough to interpret the information as adults are.
Things tend to change dramatically when tweens reach secondary school. It is roughly during this time that there becomes more of a focus on appearance. Secondary school can be a tough time for many tweens because of all the mixed messages children have to decipher.
As a parent, it can be a challenge to work out how to ensure that your message is heard above the din of all others. Remember, there is no way to protect your child from absolutely everything. For instance, just because you make a conscious decision not to have fashion magazines in your house, doesn’t mean that your daughter isn’t looking at them at a friend’s house. However, the values and beliefs that you have instilled in your child since she was beginning to crawl still exist. They may just need to be refreshed. Here are some helpful tips to help your daughter feel comfortable and confident in her own skin:
Keep an eye on media useage: You simply can't avoid all forms of media nor should you want to. However, you can monitor how much media is used in the home. If your daughter has a computer and a smart phone, have a deadline for when all equipment needs to be turned in.
Understand media influences: Know what media your child is actively using. Keep an eye on their social media usage, if you do allow them accessl. If they have a mobile phone, check to see who she is texting and try to watch the TV shows she likes.
Promote acceptance: Your tween’s body is changing and everybody develops at a different stage. Promote being healthy and encourage her to accept herself for who she is.
Walk the walk: Your daughter will never learn to accept herself if she sees you constantly trying new diets or wishing you had different hair. Instead, model for her the behaviours you want her to follow, promoting acceptance of yourself is the best message you can provide her.
Tweens can have a bit of a challenging time. It’s a period that is full of changes, development, exploration and lots of mixed messages. A parent’s voice should be heard the loudest during this confusing time and in order to ensure this, take the time to talk to your tween about what her interests are. Encourage her to explore her own individuality and promote health and well-being.