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.
As a mother of twin tweens in 2011 and an active Girl Scout Troop leader, Cristy realized there was a need to develop bilingual digital content and foster a community facing the challenges of raising kids after first grade. That year she founded and remains co-Publisher of Los Tweens & Teens, to support multicultural parents and mentors with content related to raising Gen Z- tweens & teens ages 7-18. Through the Los Tweens & Teens LIVE events such as Teens & Me – the growing team aims to provide our community with essential resources from chats with therapists to battle anxiety and bullying, to understanding social media and technology.
A New Jersey native of Cuban decent, Cristy is a board member of Amigos For Kids – a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse in the South Florida community. She is a teenage cancer survivor and speaks nationally at conferences and volunteers with cancer-awareness organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of South Florida.