Desexualizing Your Six-Year-Old: Five Ways to Protect Your Daughter from Growing Up Too Fast
by Maria Bailey, Host of Mom Talk Radio
The media has the power to influence society in a very serious and negative way on our young girls. Here are steps you can take to overcome that power and influence.
You’re walking down an aisle of a department store when you notice lacy thong underwear for sale on your right and a bright and bold display of scantily-clad figurines alongside a rack of shimmery body glitter. No, you haven’t wandered into an adult lingerie boutique or fetish shop, these very products crowd the shelves of mainstream retailers and even worse, are being designed for and marketed to your six-year-old daughter.
Gone are the days of tea parties with your favorite teddy bear. No, today little girls are influenced by Bratz dolls, pedicure parties and the newest Black Canary Barbie, complete with fishnet stockings and black boots. In popular culture, they dance to Miley Cyrus only to see her draped in only a sheet in the pages of Vanity Fair or watch Zoe 101 and weeks later see Jamie Lynn Spears’ new baby on the cover of a grocery store magazine. Growing up too fast is something that moms of all generations have long been concerned about, but these days it’s happening even younger than ever. Magazine covers celebrate “40” as the new “25” when it comes to celebrities, but for little girls, six is becoming the new “16.” In fact, according to a survey conducted by Mom Talk Radio, a nationally syndicated radio show dedicated to real-life moms, 93% of moms feel like young girls today are being pressured to grow up too fast. 73% of those surveyed responded that they view the majority of dolls, games, shows and websites targeted at little girls as too sexy or inappropriate for their daughters and 79% refuse to buy into the current trend of children’s apparel and accessories imitating adult clothing and pop culture.
Every generation of mothers has sought ways to keep their daughters young; however, today the influences are coming not only from the physical world of toys and television, but from the online world as well.
Here are some ways a Mom can keep her daughter innocent and protect her from outside influences:
1. Celebrate her age with age-appropriate activities you do together. For instance, plan a teddy bear tea party with her favorite plush toys. Or create an age appropriate dress-up box with costumes and encourage her to get creative. Use oversized clothes and natural-colored cosmetics to play dress-up instead of creating a made-up vixen. Demonstrate how fun it is to make believe without emulating the inappropriate images girls might be used to seeing.
2. Discuss and encourage self-care and enhancements in a timely progression. Every little girl wants to imitate the actions of her older peers or mother, such as putting on lipstick or painting her nails. Use these moments to talk about the right way to wear lipstick or blush. Encourage behaviors you approve of by setting time aside to test and try things like walking in heels or wearing light make-up — all in the privacy of your own home.
3. Commemorate who she is right now. Make a life-sized paper model of her body, decorate it to look like your daughter and allow her to call out all her favorite features. Recognizing her individuality and beauty now will do a lot for her self esteem and self image in the years to come.
4. Engage your child to find out why they are drawn to certain shows, dolls and online sites. If your daughter has repeatedly asked you for items you don’t approve of, find out what she likes about these objects of desire and seek out an age-appropriate alternative. For example, if she’s enthralled with the dancing in a Bratz DVD, enroll her in a class of her own or encourage her to make up her own dance moves with a friend.
5. Scope out your child’s online playground. Just like you would look over a toy before purchasing it, you should take the time to peruse the sites your child is visiting online. Visit the “About Us” section to see who is behind the site and explore the levels of interactions the site provides your child.
Every mother knows that the childhoods of her little ones are fleeting and wishes she could somehow slow the hand of time. Even without turning back the clock, these simple tips will help to prolong the preciousness of youth so Mom can soak up every special moment!