1. The Tween Years Are An Important Crossroads
As my daughter approaches the tween years, I am afraid. Very afraid. I’m already seeing cynicism replacing innocence and disdain replacing enthusiasm. I read somewhere that your conscience is formed before you reach the age of two. Next in importance after those years, I would guess are the tweens. The tween years are when my daughter will be figuring out who she is, where she fits in, what she wants her life to be. A picture of a foggy crossroads comes to mind.
2. Kids Are Like Sponges And Soak Up Their Environment
Like a sponge, I see my daughter soak up and reflect the attitudes, language, and mannerisms of the people around her. Even television shows. I can tell when my daughter has watched a certain television show by the way she starts talking. And there is a list of those shows that are not allowed in our house, by the way. When she spends a great deal of time with certain friends, I can see slight adjustments in her behavior – some good, some bad. It is important to surround your child, as much as you possibly can with good influences. There will be enough situations that you can’t control, yikes, in her life. When you have the chance, fill them with the positive.
How do you do that? How do you know which friends, which books, which media are not only appropriate, but will have a positive impact on your child? It’s not easy. There is no rating system unfortunately that will guide you through this. There are helpful tools, Common Sense Media is one of my favorites, but they only go so far. What do you do? First, listen. Listen to your child. Pay attention when they talk about their friends. Who seems to be fun, positive, and have similar values? Who ends up in trouble at school, or shows inappropriate anger? Listen to the shows they watch on television. This one is hard for me. But not only do you need to pay attention to the channel they are watching, you need to evaluate the individual program. As much as I love Disney and public television, there are shows and movies on both that I won’t allow my daughter to watch.
When there is a show that you don’t want your child to watch, they will inevitably ask you why. Be honest. Point out that the characters talk to each other in ways that you don’t like. Say, “how would you feel if your friends talked to you the way that character x did to character y?” Let them know that we pick up from the things and people around us, therefore it’s important to have positive influences. Kids are smarter than we often give them credit for being.
A tip we’ve learned the hard way: Record television so when you play it back you can skip the commercials. Not only do you avoid having to explain what ED means but you cut down on materialism.
3. Choose Kindness
Before we adopted my daughter, I was determined that she would never be a “princess”. Then she came. Ah, now I understood. I still don’t want that type of princess that is spoiled, materialistic, unfairly privileged, or lazy. I do want the modern version of a Disney princess. The modern version of a Disney prince or princess is brave, courageous, caring, outspoken, and above all, kind. That’s the message that I hear again and again in Disney media today. Choose kindness. Two words that have so much meaning. First, “choose“. That word says so much. How you act, how you feel, how you live? It’s a choice. To be kind or unkind, it’s a choice. Also, don’t stumble through your life, don’t react unthinkingly. Use your brain, use your heart, be intentional. Choose. And then, “kindness“. This trait fits every situation in life. In one word, you have so much knowledge, and advice. If you are kind, you will be fair, honest, oh, so many other positive traits, and ultimately, you will be happy. Yes, choose kindness. While Disney is not perfect and sometimes you have to sort through the layers, for me the core messages are positive. I see and I choose kindness.
4. Childhood Disappears So Quickly
But back to tweens. As my daughter moves away from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (okay she is well gone from there, but it makes me sad to say it), Sophia, and Doc McStuffins and on to Star Wars Rebels, I see other influences pulling her away. The world wants my little girl to grow up too fast. One of my favorite places to take my daughter on vacation is Walt Disney World. Unlike anywhere else, at Walt Disney World, she sees magic. Not illusion tricks, but magic. When she sat at Cinderella’s Table in the castle, closed her eyes, waved her wand and made a wish? The look on her face was something that I will never forget. What is it that will take the magic out of her life? *Sigh* I want to postpone that day as long as I can.
5. Okay, I’m Convinced. How?
Now the question becomes, how? How do you keep the magic in your child? Wow, this is a topic for a complete post. But quickly, I’ll share three tips I’ve read. Stay close and keep the lines of communication open. In the tween years, kids move from wanting to spend time with their parents to teenage rebellion. This may be our last chance to create a close relationship where we share our thoughts and feelings, don’t miss it! Celebrate life. Celebrate holidays, create memories, and do special activities. Don’t just “get through” the days, weeks, months. Celebrate. Encourage open play. All too soon, kids will be enveloped in technology and screens. Encourage pretend play, outdoor games, and less structured activities.
In the spirit of celebrations, open play and staying close, we had a #DisneySide party! To give it a tween edge, Disney sent us some fun decorations, party ideas and more to go with a “Villains” theme. Who are your favorite Disney villains? Cruella de Vil instantly comes to mind for me! Perhaps it’s Lady Tremaine from the new Cinderella. Isn’t Cate Blanchett amazing? Anyway,
Ready to have your own #DisneySide Celebration? The #DisneySideCelebrations Website has a ton of resources for you.
What’s a party without games right?
There are coloring pages, activities and much, much more!
How will you show your #DisneySide?