New Year! New You? No Way! Three Ways to Help A Tween Be Her Best Self In 2014
It’s the New Year! Time for resolutions, list making, and goal setting—for creating a new, improved version of You. But when it comes down to it, do you really want a new You? What’s so bad with the old You?
While researching and writing my new book Girl to Girl: Honest Talk About Growing Up and Your Changing Body for girls ages 8-12, I thought a lot about the messages we unintentionally send the young girls who know us. Not necessarily those put out through advertising and media, but the general kinds of things they are learning from us in our every day lives. And I can’t help but wonder if the concept of “New Year, New You” isn’t sending the message we’re intending.
Author Sarah O’Leary Burningham as a tween, with her brothers, mom, and baby sister.
Is it bad to set goals? Absolutely not. But should you want to make yourself over from head to toe every single year? Of course not.
So, instead of writing a list of things to change or improve on in 2014, I decided to put together a list of 3 ways that you can help your daughter realize how wonderful she is—just the way she is.
1. Talk to her. Puberty can be rough—so many changes and so many unknowns. Sure, your daughter knows she’s going to get her period at some point, but she doesn’t know when it will happen or where she’ll be when it does or even how she’ll feel about it. That’s a lot for a girl to deal with. So when she has questions, make some time to really answer them. Turn off the car radio or TV. Sit down and look at her (unless you’re driving or operating large machinery). It’s probably taken some nerve for her to actually ask you these things. Show her you value her by giving her some real time and attention.
2. But sometimes, just listen. Your daughter comes to you with a problem or question and naturally, you want to jump in and help her solve it. She’s not getting along with her best friend? She’s worried that she’s shorter than all the girls in her class? You are there to help! But sometimes, she might just be looking for someone to hear her out. If it seems like she’s talking through her own problem, try to be encouraging without actually giving her the solution. It will empower her to know she can figure things out on her own and that she can trust you to listen well when she needs you.
3. Tell her you love her. I come from a family that says, “I love you,” every time someone walks out the door. That’s a lot of “love” being tossed around on a daily basis. You may worry that saying it too much will mean it becomes just a throw-away phrase, but as someone who heard it a lot as a girl, let me say, there’s no such thing as too many “I love you’s” when you mean them. So say it and say it often. It will sink in for her and even on those days when it seems like you two exist on completely different planets, she’ll know deep down that you love her always.
Author of Girl To Girl: Honest Talk About Growing Up and Your Changing Body
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