Talking to Tweens About Role Models

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One word I would use to describe tweens is influenced. This is a sensitive age where influences from every angle of their lives actually matter and impact their behavior or thoughts in a positive or negative way. I have recently become more mindful of this and when my kids tell me that a friend, song, actor, program or an activity is cool (or not) I ask them “why?” I’m starting to sound like a 3 year old! The ‘whys’ really matter at this age as the impact is a strong one.

Recently my tweens have been watching select (selected by me!) episodes of “Dancing with the Stars” particularly because they LOVE Zendaya Coleman. While I only know her from the Disney Channel Show “Shake it Up”- I didn’t know about her and her dance competition actually gave me a glance into her personality. And also her parents (a rare opportunity). I actually agree with the tweens on this one! So I got to thinking about why is she a good role model and how do we help judge who/what are good influencers for our tweensitos?

Tips to Role Model Understanding

  • Watch VERY carefully the programs your tween watches and who they consider to be ‘cool’ on those programs
  • Ask why they think that character or program is cool or not
  • Talk about the messages that show or character sends out- for example: Does the character portray helping others or meanness?
  • Once you know the character (actual actor’s name) – do some homework. Are there any positive or negative aspects to the person?
  • TALK ABOUT IT– create dialog to understand from an early age what triggers in your child an interest or attraction to a certain personality in others.

Knowing early the influencers that are key to your child can help you better attempt to guide their choices later. When I asked one of my chicas why she likes Zendaya she said- “she seems so focused on her goals, she tries really hard, she’s funny and she wants to prove that even if you’re young, you can achieve things.” I almost fell to the ground! That’s awesome! Zendaya is approved!

Try this easy exercise to create more dialog with your growing child and learn to understand what matters to them.


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