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5 Healthy Habits To Teach Your Tween

Posted Apr 29 2011 8:25am

Erica, my 10 year old, has a white board. That white board is a window to her mind for me. She writes everything from her to do list to her feelings on that board.  Her messages range from, “I hate my mom,” to “Play school with Addie.”

My interest was piqued however when I walked into her room and saw this new message:


“Make Hygine Kit on 4/27/11” and It HURTS!!  It hurts refers to the rug burn she got when Nate tried dragging her out of his room when she wouldn’t leave the room willingly, but I didn’t know what she meant by a hygiene kit.  

So, I asked.  Apparently, she’s putting together a toiletries bag for her trip to San Diego, IN JULY!!  My tom-Boy, get wet, play in the dirt, and then get wet again, all of a sudden wants to start using soap!  Well, I’m going to ride this train as long as I can!  So, we started talking about taking care of herself!

My running friend, whose daughters are grown, has been telling me about the book, The Care and Keeping of You from the American Girl Doll Library.  Her daughters each had their own copy and loved it! So, I found a copy at the library yesterday (they had several, so I’m sure your library will have it too).  This book is awesome! Erica was reading it for hours last night, and would often come tell me things she thought I wouldn’t know that she discovered.  It’s easy to read with great pictures and a great outline to base great conversations with your daughter from taking care of their hair, to getting their period. 

The transition from taking care of your little girl to having her take care of herself can be hard on both of you.  Here are a few things to talk about while they begin to takeover more of the responsibilities: 06_2010roskelley032

  1. The first healthy habit is to keep her body clean!  This now becomes her responsibility. You should talk to her about taking showers more often, washing her face, brushing her hair by herself, cleaning pierced ears, flossing, having fresh breath, taking care of acne, and cleaning under her fingernails. 
  2. The second healthy habit is taking care of her underarms.  It’s time to have a conversation about B.O!  From the book, “Sweating is natural and healthy.. Luckily, keeping body odor in check isn’t hard.”  Then talk about deodorant and teach her how to shave her underarm hair when she’s ready.
  3. The third healthy habit is to have a healthy attitude about body changes.  Between ages 9-12, she’ll start to notice changes in her breasts and body shape.  Everyone is different and develop into different shapes at a different rate.  I love this quote from the book, “Your weight depends on how your body is built.  Also, your body hasn’t finished developing yet. Just remember, you were made beautifully.  Don’t listen to anyone who says you’re not!” (See my post on body image issues in girls !)
  4. A healthy body includes, Starting her period!  Another reason this discussion began was my sister called to remind me she got her period in the summer before 5th grade! Which is exactly how old Erica is!  Most girls start between ages 9-15.    Begin this conversation with, “Your period is the period of time each month when fluid containing blood flows out of the uterus through the vagina. It’s a sign that your body is working properly.  It’s preparing to do the grown-up work of having a baby someday!”  It’s so important to talk about what she can do the first day she notices this and what the solutions are to keeping her underwear clean.
  5. Lastly, talk about things she can do to stay healthy on the inside. Fueling her body with healthy food by snacking smart, listening to her hunger cues, eating a balanced diet, and staying hydrated is key.  Quote from the book, “What makes a girl glow from head to toe?  A daily diet rich in all the essential vitamins and minerals!” 

Don’t be intimidated by the changes happening.  She will be as anxious to know what is going on as you are.  More importantly, don’t leave it up to the kids at recess to teach her about growing up. Start the dialogue with her today!


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