My 11 year old is dancing too sexy

Posted by David Beard, Globe Staff  September 29, 2008 06:29 AM

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The following is from a Boston.com Q&A with Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz:

Question: Hi Barbara. I have an 11 year old and 9 year old who watch the Disney Channel. Often the girls, mostly the 11 year old, will dance in a sexy fashion complete with hip gyrations, etc.

I am at a loss as to what to say about this. I know banning TV will not work and I hesitate to use the word sexy as my 11 year old is of the mindset that sex right now is just for procreation and my 9 year old doesn't even know what is involved in sex. Any advice?
TONGUE-TIED MOM

Barbara Meltz: Tongue-tied mom, I like this question because I think it is such a common problem. You sound like you feel helpless in the wake of this, but you are not!

It sounds like you need to take more control of the TV viewing, though. If banning is out of the question -- because you can't tolerate their unhappiness? Or don't have the backbone to stick with it? -- set some clear rules about when/what gets watched. Just because it is Disney DOES NOT mean it is appropriate viewing (I called a chapter in my book, "Even Disney can be the enemy").

...This is a good time of the year to make some new rules, for instance no viewing on school days. Come on! You can do it! You can also say, "Some programs are not for your age.''

And why can't you talk about what is "too sexy"? Just don't make it complicated. Here's a just-published book that you need: "Too Sexy Too Soon?" by Diane Levin and Jeanne Kilbourne.

Readers, do you agree? Or not? Have your say in our comment section. If you have a question for Barbara Meltz, make sure to check in during her Boston.com chat at 1 p.m. on Monday.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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26 comments so far...
  1. How about Mom gets a grip on the fact that all people are sexual beings, this dancing may be an early expression of that and not "from the evil outside" she thinks it is, and starts a conversation about sex and sexuality with the girl and tells her how to recognize and protect herself from pervs?

    Lets see, most girls get their periods at age 12 or 13 ... many get their periods before age 11. Maybe instead of the puritanical freak out, mom needs to get on with the education. The "what's happening to my body book for girls" is a good start (my son has one for boys). Even if her daughter says that she thinks that sex is procreative at this point (what mom wants to hear??), her changing body plus mom's enforcement of her ignorance will not keep her safe or help her know her own mind.

    Posted by infoferret September 29, 08 11:40 AM
  1. She's probably been watching Choo-Choo Soul. That is kinda skanky that girl...

    Posted by C.Hanks September 29, 08 11:43 AM
  1. Part of me is surprised Disney would air anything considered too sexy but perhaps the show the 11 year old is watching is meant for older teens, say 14 and up. I agree that TTM should take more control over what shows her daughter watches but here again, you watch a commercial for kids back-to-school clothing or a juice drink and there are 6 years old gyrating like Shakira. While Madison Ave and the media might well be the culprits, the solution and responsibility ultimately lies with parental contol.

    Posted by A Dingo Ate My Baby September 29, 08 11:44 AM
  1. I'm a grandmother who has raised 3 daughters and I don't understand why parents are afraid to talk to their children. If you don't who will?
    Stop trying to be a friend and be a parent!

    Posted by Marguerita September 29, 08 11:54 AM
  1. Why wouldn't it be okay for the girls to "dance sexy" while at home as long as they understand that what's okay at home isn't for outside the home? My little ones love to dance in their skivvies at home, but they're very clear that this is something they do /at home./ It seems to me that home would be a safe place to let kids explore stuff like, um, hip gyrations.

    My other question for this parent is: why doesn't a 9 year old know more about "what is involved" regarding sex? My five year old asks plenty of questions about how bodies work, etc. I would imagine that a 9 year old who is not that far from puberty really needs some communication in this regard.

    Posted by hot-tomato September 29, 08 12:00 PM
  1. I think there's another step to take here. Take the time to talk to your girls and explain that while people on TV might do it, "we don't dance that way." And take the time to show them other dance steps, maybe from your own youth that are less inappropriate. They don't need to understand that what they were doing was provocative, but explain that for your family it's not right.

    Posted by Tryne September 29, 08 12:36 PM
  1. The problem, as I see it, is that unless you completely forbid your child from ever going on playdates, it's impossible to ensure that they never see the inappropriate stuff. There are four-year-olds having Hannah Montana birthday parties, for crying out loud! If the child knows that you don't want them watching program X, and they see it at a friend's house, they aren't going to tell you about it, and you miss the opportunity to talk about it.

    Posted by akmom September 29, 08 12:53 PM
  1. Since the girls are interested in dancing,I would suggest enrolling them to a ballroom or Latin dancing school. They would learn appropriate dancing moves and behavior. Salsa or swing for example are great since its dancing position involves just holding hands.
    Once they learn more appropriate moves they are bound to dance them, instead of just mindelessly shaking whatever they shake on Disney channel.

    Posted by Elena September 29, 08 01:01 PM
  1. We just recently banned many Disney Channel shows in our house. This includes Hannah Montana—even though we see her merchandise every time we turn around. Her show is completely inappropriate for my 7 year old. It is hard to take away something that we have already allowed; but it is necessary. We simply tell her that the kids in the show are teenagers and the kinds of things they are dealing with aren’t something that she needs to be concerned about right now. The High School Musical movies are about high school kids, not second graders, and this is how we explained it to our daughter. We even went as far as to say that Hannah Montana’s character is rude and selfish and we don’t think that it is a good influence. She now understands why we don’t watch the show, and if she is watching something else on that channel she asks us to change it when Hannah Montana comes on. If you take the time to explain things to your children it all goes over a lot easier.

    Posted by N. Muise September 29, 08 01:17 PM
  1. We don't let our kids watch too much TV, but we don't ban it altogether for sure. Two things we do that can help you, I think:

    1) we have a rule that our kids cannot watch TV unless their rooms and their shared bathroom are clean, they have done their homework AND finished practicing their instruments (they take violin and piano). This helps with putting some structure around where TV lies in the priority list and also give them motivation to keep their rooms clean and practice their instruments, for which lessons are expensive, thus helping to get the most out of that investment.

    2) when they DO watch TV, we make sure it's a show we've prerecorded on a DVR (or Tivo). This gives us control over what they watch and has the added bonus that they can skip the commercials. (which we've taught them pretty much just want to get you to part with your money anyway).

    Posted by Jake Yara September 29, 08 01:43 PM
  1. woah! Listen to all the high and mighties out there. I think this mom was looking for ways to talk to her children without scaring them or robbing them of their innocence. I, too am concerned about the sexy stuff out there and it is everywhere, disney or not. Has anybody watched a basketball or football game lately? Cheerleaders don't just cheer anymore.
    As for talking to a 9 yr old about sex and sexy, that is too early. If she asks, then fine, but why push her? I feel like this society is pushing kids to grow up, now you think mother should start a conversation about sex, periods, etc. ,at age 9?

    Posted by p.paul September 29, 08 02:08 PM
  1. Well, this sure hit a soft spot! Father of three chiming in!
    My two girls 7 and 9 years old have been in dance lessons, Ballet and tap and also have been on Cheer leading teams.
    Those are all teaching dance moves not "SEX" moves!
    Please stop with your own insecurities and let the children dance
    Actually what my girls are gaining is self confidence and building their self esteem.
    What you think is sexy is not even on the girls minds.

    If you teach them how to dance they will not learn their moves from TV.

    Posted by Chris September 29, 08 02:51 PM
  1. I think that it is clear that our society, and particularly the media, sexualizes young girls long before they understand what is being done to them. It is quite possible that these girls were just expressing their natural youthful sexual energy; it is more likely that they were doing so by copying the sexualized gyrations of their idols on TV and I don't think it's "puritanical" to be concerned. It is a good time to talk to them about 1) the difference between what happens on TV and what goes on in real life, 2) what being sexual means. Too many young girls don't understand the difference between a natural healthy sexuality and sexual manipulation - the difference between being sexual attractive and sexually available. It's too bad that we have to concern girls with this at such a young age, but parents who don't risk serious repercussions if they don't.

    Posted by Ritan1 September 29, 08 03:15 PM
  1. I just had a conversation with my soon-to-be 5 year old daughter about how Hannah Montana isn't a show for kids her age, even though some of her friends at school watch it. Don't overthink it - you can't find the answers to problem like these on the net or in parenting books. Just go with your instincts. If it's less difficult, talk to them separately about it - tell the 11 year old it's really not appropriate for her little sister (because it's not) and talk about sex with her; tell the 9 year old that while she thinks she is a big girl, she's not, and there are other shows on tv for kids her age. Good luck!

    Posted by Amy September 29, 08 03:19 PM
  1. On the one hand I can agree with 'akmom' about at least having your child understand the shows before they see it elsewhere. We have sat our girls down and watched one episode of Hannah and explained throughout why it was a 'dorky' show. My girls agreed, but also, know what it is enough to feel like they aren't completely out of it with friends. HOWEVER, there is NO need to let your kids watch TV regularly. We don't allow television programs at all. Movies? Yes, and there are multitudes of wonderful ones, and they can only watch them on weekend nights,, for 'movie night'. That's always been the rule, and our girls are of few who can come home on any weekday, do their homework, and just hang out, not once asking ofr TV. If you have rules, they work, and just become the norm.

    Posted by NWmom September 29, 08 03:32 PM
  1. What if she grows up to be a professional dancer, become famous, earn millions and then say, "oh mom, you won't get anything because you didn't approve of this when I was 11"

    Posted by billy September 29, 08 04:24 PM
  1. My children grew up without tv, and when they danced, there was no need to worry because it was age appropriate dancing, that was NOT taught by tv role modeling.
    If a parent feels uncomfortable with what their child is learning may be ACCELERATED. Go ahead and put boundries where they need to be. Find good age appropriate tv programs that they can watch. Thats what parents do to protect their children.
    Its every parents right do what's best for their child.

    Posted by Karen W September 29, 08 04:53 PM
  1. This is hysterical! I am a successful, professional woman with a post graduate education and remember when I was nine years old rolling around on the floor "dancing" like Madonna. And I listened to songs titled "Like a Virgin." Get a grip lady!

    Do we not have bigger things to worry about?!

    Posted by MadonnaFan September 29, 08 05:35 PM
  1. Why are we even entertaining the "Hanna Montana" rage anyway? She is just another example of us mindless Americans accepting this crap! The real "Walt Disney" would turn over in his grave if he saw what his empire he worked so hard to create has turned into! 9 and 11 year olds should not be dancing mindlessly in front of a TV!!!!! they probably don't even realize what they're doing.... they are 9 and 11! Mom, I think you are right, put a stop to this before they turn in to mindless consumers who have to have everything! It's nt just about the dancing, if "hanna Montana" sat there picking her nose, they would probably do it too! Monkey see, monkey do. I am the mother of 3 small kids, my 5 year old is a girl and thankfully, she doesn't even know who Hanna montana is.I would let her watch SNL before I would let h er watch that disney crap

    Posted by J Gilligan September 29, 08 08:54 PM
  1. Oh PA-LEEZEEEE! How many of you danced with the Soul Train or American Bandstand dancers?! Better yet, how many of you danced in your livingrooms with your friends/parents growing up? I did. Silly dance moves were laughed at and we all - including parents - had a great time together.

    To the concerned mom: Next time you see your daughter "dancing", why not join in and show her how the moves are done? Have your son join in and have a good time instead of freaking out over nothing.

    Posted by athena02116 September 29, 08 10:07 PM
  1. I'd be more concerned about your 9-year-old who doesn't know what sex is...

    Posted by S. Murray September 30, 08 12:40 AM
  1. Has anyone seen Little Miss Sunshine? A stuid movie, but somehow it does make a point.

    I always wonder at the TV though: Parents are parental, TV is parenteral

    Parents, human beings, nature, real things and creative time -- musical instruments just there to play with not to learn necessarily -- is my own prescription. I have no TV in the house, and I will not have one. Web is restricted to news and work. I know that at some point it will be an issue. But right now my daughter can't get enough of music, singing, reading, playing with other kids, painting and generally entertaining herself. My office is a paradise for her. In my books -- and I am radical, I know -- TV is 95 % poison, both the medium and the message and the massage.

    I studied Communications and actually heard from distinguished profs that "TV taught preschoolers to be good consumers" and they meant that in a positive way. That generation has now grown up and rammed itself into debt. Not astonishingly, the profs worked as consultants for the networks. They would not, could not bite the hand that fed them.

    Otherwise, a little hoola hoop can be healthy, no?


    Posted by talleyrand September 30, 08 03:15 AM
  1. i agree wtih the answer that she was given. Children are exposed to things too soon and TV is the worst. The clothing that we buy them (or are forced to consider) at that young age is terrible. I was playing with dolls and was interested in National Velvet stories at that age. I am a parent and my now age 26 year old girl was constantly bombarded at age 11 or so. This is not the jungle here so keep the kids from watching sexual stuff (subliminal which I know is spelled wrong at this early hour) if you can.

    Posted by Jean Bowden September 30, 08 04:22 AM
  1. I hit "send" before finishing my earlier comment...I do have things I don't allow in my house. My kids know that I won't allow Bratz in the house, because I don't feel that brattiness is something to celebrate. I know that my daughter may play with Bratz at a friend's house, but I know that she understands why I don't like them.

    We don't have cable, so they don't get to watch the Disney stuff, but we do have the High School Musical movies. I watch them with my kids, and we talk about the bad behavior, how it makes the other characters feel, etc. I don't allow them a steady diet of inappropriate TV, but every now and again, with a talk about the stuff that's not appropriate, is a teaching tool.

    Posted by akmom September 30, 08 06:43 AM
  1. Why are you letting you children watch the Disney channel. Just turn off the tv!

    Posted by Jennifer September 30, 08 07:29 AM
  1. Regarding the dancing:
    You need to explain to your daughter that she will learn and hear things (e.g. sexy dance moves, swear words, etc.) that may not be appropriate to express either outside the house (sexy dance moves) or ever (swear words) at her age. You can also explain how sexy dance moves may be attractive to others (men) as she gets older, so she needs to think about how to conduct herself publicly. However, I wouldn't squelch the expression at home.

    Regarding the "sexy" behavior:
    A child age 11 is ready to know about puberty. A great book for girls is called "Read, Set, Grow!" (by Lynda Madaras). Puberty starts between ages 8 and 12 so you are there, Mom. You daughter is already seeing other girls at school with breasts and bras, so she must be developing a curiosity about this. Don't make sex a mystery. Teach that it is a healthy part of adult life, while teaching appropriate behavior with others and don't delay answering her questions until it is too late! My daughter is 9 and my husband and I answer all of her questions about sex and bodies in a level of detail appropriate for her age. I see her developing a healthy curiosity without embarrassment, much different from my own upbringing.

    Posted by Kathy September 30, 08 09:27 AM
 
26 comments so far...
  1. How about Mom gets a grip on the fact that all people are sexual beings, this dancing may be an early expression of that and not "from the evil outside" she thinks it is, and starts a conversation about sex and sexuality with the girl and tells her how to recognize and protect herself from pervs?

    Lets see, most girls get their periods at age 12 or 13 ... many get their periods before age 11. Maybe instead of the puritanical freak out, mom needs to get on with the education. The "what's happening to my body book for girls" is a good start (my son has one for boys). Even if her daughter says that she thinks that sex is procreative at this point (what mom wants to hear??), her changing body plus mom's enforcement of her ignorance will not keep her safe or help her know her own mind.

    Posted by infoferret September 29, 08 11:40 AM
  1. She's probably been watching Choo-Choo Soul. That is kinda skanky that girl...

    Posted by C.Hanks September 29, 08 11:43 AM
  1. Part of me is surprised Disney would air anything considered too sexy but perhaps the show the 11 year old is watching is meant for older teens, say 14 and up. I agree that TTM should take more control over what shows her daughter watches but here again, you watch a commercial for kids back-to-school clothing or a juice drink and there are 6 years old gyrating like Shakira. While Madison Ave and the media might well be the culprits, the solution and responsibility ultimately lies with parental contol.

    Posted by A Dingo Ate My Baby September 29, 08 11:44 AM
  1. I'm a grandmother who has raised 3 daughters and I don't understand why parents are afraid to talk to their children. If you don't who will?
    Stop trying to be a friend and be a parent!

    Posted by Marguerita September 29, 08 11:54 AM
  1. Why wouldn't it be okay for the girls to "dance sexy" while at home as long as they understand that what's okay at home isn't for outside the home? My little ones love to dance in their skivvies at home, but they're very clear that this is something they do /at home./ It seems to me that home would be a safe place to let kids explore stuff like, um, hip gyrations.

    My other question for this parent is: why doesn't a 9 year old know more about "what is involved" regarding sex? My five year old asks plenty of questions about how bodies work, etc. I would imagine that a 9 year old who is not that far from puberty really needs some communication in this regard.

    Posted by hot-tomato September 29, 08 12:00 PM
  1. I think there's another step to take here. Take the time to talk to your girls and explain that while people on TV might do it, "we don't dance that way." And take the time to show them other dance steps, maybe from your own youth that are less inappropriate. They don't need to understand that what they were doing was provocative, but explain that for your family it's not right.

    Posted by Tryne September 29, 08 12:36 PM
  1. The problem, as I see it, is that unless you completely forbid your child from ever going on playdates, it's impossible to ensure that they never see the inappropriate stuff. There are four-year-olds having Hannah Montana birthday parties, for crying out loud! If the child knows that you don't want them watching program X, and they see it at a friend's house, they aren't going to tell you about it, and you miss the opportunity to talk about it.

    Posted by akmom September 29, 08 12:53 PM
  1. Since the girls are interested in dancing,I would suggest enrolling them to a ballroom or Latin dancing school. They would learn appropriate dancing moves and behavior. Salsa or swing for example are great since its dancing position involves just holding hands.
    Once they learn more appropriate moves they are bound to dance them, instead of just mindelessly shaking whatever they shake on Disney channel.

    Posted by Elena September 29, 08 01:01 PM
  1. We just recently banned many Disney Channel shows in our house. This includes Hannah Montana—even though we see her merchandise every time we turn around. Her show is completely inappropriate for my 7 year old. It is hard to take away something that we have already allowed; but it is necessary. We simply tell her that the kids in the show are teenagers and the kinds of things they are dealing with aren’t something that she needs to be concerned about right now. The High School Musical movies are about high school kids, not second graders, and this is how we explained it to our daughter. We even went as far as to say that Hannah Montana’s character is rude and selfish and we don’t think that it is a good influence. She now understands why we don’t watch the show, and if she is watching something else on that channel she asks us to change it when Hannah Montana comes on. If you take the time to explain things to your children it all goes over a lot easier.

    Posted by N. Muise September 29, 08 01:17 PM
  1. We don't let our kids watch too much TV, but we don't ban it altogether for sure. Two things we do that can help you, I think:

    1) we have a rule that our kids cannot watch TV unless their rooms and their shared bathroom are clean, they have done their homework AND finished practicing their instruments (they take violin and piano). This helps with putting some structure around where TV lies in the priority list and also give them motivation to keep their rooms clean and practice their instruments, for which lessons are expensive, thus helping to get the most out of that investment.

    2) when they DO watch TV, we make sure it's a show we've prerecorded on a DVR (or Tivo). This gives us control over what they watch and has the added bonus that they can skip the commercials. (which we've taught them pretty much just want to get you to part with your money anyway).

    Posted by Jake Yara September 29, 08 01:43 PM
  1. woah! Listen to all the high and mighties out there. I think this mom was looking for ways to talk to her children without scaring them or robbing them of their innocence. I, too am concerned about the sexy stuff out there and it is everywhere, disney or not. Has anybody watched a basketball or football game lately? Cheerleaders don't just cheer anymore.
    As for talking to a 9 yr old about sex and sexy, that is too early. If she asks, then fine, but why push her? I feel like this society is pushing kids to grow up, now you think mother should start a conversation about sex, periods, etc. ,at age 9?

    Posted by p.paul September 29, 08 02:08 PM
  1. Well, this sure hit a soft spot! Father of three chiming in!
    My two girls 7 and 9 years old have been in dance lessons, Ballet and tap and also have been on Cheer leading teams.
    Those are all teaching dance moves not "SEX" moves!
    Please stop with your own insecurities and let the children dance
    Actually what my girls are gaining is self confidence and building their self esteem.
    What you think is sexy is not even on the girls minds.

    If you teach them how to dance they will not learn their moves from TV.

    Posted by Chris September 29, 08 02:51 PM
  1. I think that it is clear that our society, and particularly the media, sexualizes young girls long before they understand what is being done to them. It is quite possible that these girls were just expressing their natural youthful sexual energy; it is more likely that they were doing so by copying the sexualized gyrations of their idols on TV and I don't think it's "puritanical" to be concerned. It is a good time to talk to them about 1) the difference between what happens on TV and what goes on in real life, 2) what being sexual means. Too many young girls don't understand the difference between a natural healthy sexuality and sexual manipulation - the difference between being sexual attractive and sexually available. It's too bad that we have to concern girls with this at such a young age, but parents who don't risk serious repercussions if they don't.

    Posted by Ritan1 September 29, 08 03:15 PM
  1. I just had a conversation with my soon-to-be 5 year old daughter about how Hannah Montana isn't a show for kids her age, even though some of her friends at school watch it. Don't overthink it - you can't find the answers to problem like these on the net or in parenting books. Just go with your instincts. If it's less difficult, talk to them separately about it - tell the 11 year old it's really not appropriate for her little sister (because it's not) and talk about sex with her; tell the 9 year old that while she thinks she is a big girl, she's not, and there are other shows on tv for kids her age. Good luck!

    Posted by Amy September 29, 08 03:19 PM
  1. On the one hand I can agree with 'akmom' about at least having your child understand the shows before they see it elsewhere. We have sat our girls down and watched one episode of Hannah and explained throughout why it was a 'dorky' show. My girls agreed, but also, know what it is enough to feel like they aren't completely out of it with friends. HOWEVER, there is NO need to let your kids watch TV regularly. We don't allow television programs at all. Movies? Yes, and there are multitudes of wonderful ones, and they can only watch them on weekend nights,, for 'movie night'. That's always been the rule, and our girls are of few who can come home on any weekday, do their homework, and just hang out, not once asking ofr TV. If you have rules, they work, and just become the norm.

    Posted by NWmom September 29, 08 03:32 PM
  1. What if she grows up to be a professional dancer, become famous, earn millions and then say, "oh mom, you won't get anything because you didn't approve of this when I was 11"

    Posted by billy September 29, 08 04:24 PM
  1. My children grew up without tv, and when they danced, there was no need to worry because it was age appropriate dancing, that was NOT taught by tv role modeling.
    If a parent feels uncomfortable with what their child is learning may be ACCELERATED. Go ahead and put boundries where they need to be. Find good age appropriate tv programs that they can watch. Thats what parents do to protect their children.
    Its every parents right do what's best for their child.

    Posted by Karen W September 29, 08 04:53 PM
  1. This is hysterical! I am a successful, professional woman with a post graduate education and remember when I was nine years old rolling around on the floor "dancing" like Madonna. And I listened to songs titled "Like a Virgin." Get a grip lady!

    Do we not have bigger things to worry about?!

    Posted by MadonnaFan September 29, 08 05:35 PM
  1. Why are we even entertaining the "Hanna Montana" rage anyway? She is just another example of us mindless Americans accepting this crap! The real "Walt Disney" would turn over in his grave if he saw what his empire he worked so hard to create has turned into! 9 and 11 year olds should not be dancing mindlessly in front of a TV!!!!! they probably don't even realize what they're doing.... they are 9 and 11! Mom, I think you are right, put a stop to this before they turn in to mindless consumers who have to have everything! It's nt just about the dancing, if "hanna Montana" sat there picking her nose, they would probably do it too! Monkey see, monkey do. I am the mother of 3 small kids, my 5 year old is a girl and thankfully, she doesn't even know who Hanna montana is.I would let her watch SNL before I would let h er watch that disney crap

    Posted by J Gilligan September 29, 08 08:54 PM
  1. Oh PA-LEEZEEEE! How many of you danced with the Soul Train or American Bandstand dancers?! Better yet, how many of you danced in your livingrooms with your friends/parents growing up? I did. Silly dance moves were laughed at and we all - including parents - had a great time together.

    To the concerned mom: Next time you see your daughter "dancing", why not join in and show her how the moves are done? Have your son join in and have a good time instead of freaking out over nothing.

    Posted by athena02116 September 29, 08 10:07 PM
  1. I'd be more concerned about your 9-year-old who doesn't know what sex is...

    Posted by S. Murray September 30, 08 12:40 AM
  1. Has anyone seen Little Miss Sunshine? A stuid movie, but somehow it does make a point.

    I always wonder at the TV though: Parents are parental, TV is parenteral

    Parents, human beings, nature, real things and creative time -- musical instruments just there to play with not to learn necessarily -- is my own prescription. I have no TV in the house, and I will not have one. Web is restricted to news and work. I know that at some point it will be an issue. But right now my daughter can't get enough of music, singing, reading, playing with other kids, painting and generally entertaining herself. My office is a paradise for her. In my books -- and I am radical, I know -- TV is 95 % poison, both the medium and the message and the massage.

    I studied Communications and actually heard from distinguished profs that "TV taught preschoolers to be good consumers" and they meant that in a positive way. That generation has now grown up and rammed itself into debt. Not astonishingly, the profs worked as consultants for the networks. They would not, could not bite the hand that fed them.

    Otherwise, a little hoola hoop can be healthy, no?


    Posted by talleyrand September 30, 08 03:15 AM
  1. i agree wtih the answer that she was given. Children are exposed to things too soon and TV is the worst. The clothing that we buy them (or are forced to consider) at that young age is terrible. I was playing with dolls and was interested in National Velvet stories at that age. I am a parent and my now age 26 year old girl was constantly bombarded at age 11 or so. This is not the jungle here so keep the kids from watching sexual stuff (subliminal which I know is spelled wrong at this early hour) if you can.

    Posted by Jean Bowden September 30, 08 04:22 AM
  1. I hit "send" before finishing my earlier comment...I do have things I don't allow in my house. My kids know that I won't allow Bratz in the house, because I don't feel that brattiness is something to celebrate. I know that my daughter may play with Bratz at a friend's house, but I know that she understands why I don't like them.

    We don't have cable, so they don't get to watch the Disney stuff, but we do have the High School Musical movies. I watch them with my kids, and we talk about the bad behavior, how it makes the other characters feel, etc. I don't allow them a steady diet of inappropriate TV, but every now and again, with a talk about the stuff that's not appropriate, is a teaching tool.

    Posted by akmom September 30, 08 06:43 AM
  1. Why are you letting you children watch the Disney channel. Just turn off the tv!

    Posted by Jennifer September 30, 08 07:29 AM
  1. Regarding the dancing:
    You need to explain to your daughter that she will learn and hear things (e.g. sexy dance moves, swear words, etc.) that may not be appropriate to express either outside the house (sexy dance moves) or ever (swear words) at her age. You can also explain how sexy dance moves may be attractive to others (men) as she gets older, so she needs to think about how to conduct herself publicly. However, I wouldn't squelch the expression at home.

    Regarding the "sexy" behavior:
    A child age 11 is ready to know about puberty. A great book for girls is called "Read, Set, Grow!" (by Lynda Madaras). Puberty starts between ages 8 and 12 so you are there, Mom. You daughter is already seeing other girls at school with breasts and bras, so she must be developing a curiosity about this. Don't make sex a mystery. Teach that it is a healthy part of adult life, while teaching appropriate behavior with others and don't delay answering her questions until it is too late! My daughter is 9 and my husband and I answer all of her questions about sex and bodies in a level of detail appropriate for her age. I see her developing a healthy curiosity without embarrassment, much different from my own upbringing.

    Posted by Kathy September 30, 08 09:27 AM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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