Having the Sex Talk: Is Your Tween Too Sexy Too Soon?
How to have the sex talk with your tween, plus how to handle 5 dilemmas on kids' sexuality
THE DILEMMA: Sometimes my eight-year-old daughter gets off the school bus wearing another girl's makeup.
WHAT TO SAY: Nearly all girls play with their mom's makeup and high heels, and “it's a good way to explore adulthood in a safe environment,” says M. Gigi Durham, Ph.D., author of The Lolita Effect. But wearing makeup to school or outside the house is another matter. Tell her you noticed she was wearing makeup when she got off the bus, and ask her why she put it on.
Hear her out first, suggests Dr. Shrier, then you can say something like “I don't think kids your age should be wearing makeup, because it's for grown-ups. Grownups might do it to feel prettier, but it doesn't look the same way on a young person.” Keep in mind that some parents do let their girls wear lip gloss to school, so it's important to remind your daughter that families have different rules and that you do what you think is best for your child.
If your daughter still feels strongly about wearing makeup, let her pick out some lip balm so she has the sensation of wearing lip gloss to school. “She'll feel like she made a choice and won't start hiding it behind your back,” says Brown.
If there's one simple rule for counteracting some of the harmful messages children are receiving from popular culture, it's this: Praise your children for what they do well—not just for how they look. We can't deny that it's important to feel attractive, especially in a culture where looks are so highly valued. But it's even more important that children are recognized for their accomplishments, so they realize that their looks aren't everything.