To take one look at the way society is towards children in the modern day, it is a wonder that the whole concept of ‘childhood’ still exists at all. Popular culture is filled with so-called role models as points of reference for what you should look like and aspire to be, relating to both boys and for girls.
Some of the most popular pop-culture figures on the planet, such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga, could be held accused of being culpable in the early sexualisation of young children, and especially young girls. It would be unfair to single those two out however, as the eroding face of childhood can be seen almost anywhere you look, from scantily clad superstars right down the local clothes store that sells gel bras for pre-teenage girls.
As adults, we all know that childhood is the best time of our lives, and by allowing our children and the younger generation as a whole to be seduced by media exposure and societal attitudes in general, we are taking away the opportunity for our kids to grow up happily and at their own pace.
How can we do more to help our children to celebrate their childhood?
Age Appropriate Toys
One of the biggest issues faced by younger girls is that many toys seem to be aimed at babies, then once they reach the age of five or six there is nothing, so parents turn to a games console or tablet device to keep their child entertained.
One great way to promote intelligent play is to look for period dolls, which have much more depth and possibility than the popular mass-market brands such as Barbie and Disney Princess. Dolls that have a character, and a story behind them to which young girls can relate, is a much better way to develop social and emotional skills than using “makeup styling dolls” or deciding which outfit “nightclub Barbie” should be wearing tonight.
A key part of us helping children to celebrate their childhood is to moderate what our kids are exposed to, and when. Of course, there is a balance to be struck here, as none of us would want our children to be the odd one at school because they never do a particular activity, or go to a particular place. At the same time, we all want the best for our children, so manage that exposure as best we can, be it in the toys we buy, the food they eat, or the pop culture “role models” that we encourage them to look up to and emulate.
[A Girl For All Time provides award-winning dolls, novels and keepsake books that bring the past to life with cool fashions, exciting stories and original activities to share with friends and family. Image: vastateparksstaff]