Being a tween girl is hard. And according to a new study, the television shows tween girls and boys watch is making life just a little more difficult. The study published in the journal Sex Roles found that programs on common kid channels, such as Disney and Nickelodeon, frequently show girls (all of whom are good-looking) being concerned about their looks, working to look better, and receiving comments about their appearance from other characters . At the same time, boys in these shows had a larger variety of "looks" (some attractive and some not so attractive) and didn't focus on their appearance.
If you think about your tween years, or your own tween child, you know that this is an awkward stage. Braces, glasses, growth spurts, and hand-me-downs plague a majority of middle schoolers and affect their self-esteem. When combined with the existing struggles of tweenhood, TV shows that tell girls to focus on their looks are bound to cause anxiety about every aspect of their appearance.
What worries me most about this study is that if girls are told to spend time thinking about what they look like, what are they not concentrating on. For example, if they spend their morning preoccupied about their outfit, are they missing out on time learning in class? Are they wasting time that could be used to daydream about their future career? And could low self-esteem keep them from speaking up in school or participating in sports?
Aside from turning off the television, there are things you can do to counteract the negative messages on their favorite channels:
-Set a good example by loving yourself.
-Encourage your girls to participate in a variety of activities.
-Talk to her about all her positive qualities to increase her long-term confidence.
What do you do to promote a healthy self-esteem in your kids?