A recent study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Heaths suggests that by the 6th grade nearly 1 in 6 kids are already using alcohol.
Is this true? Are kids really starting to drink this early? I remember experimenting with alcohol pretty early, but I'm thinking early like high-school-early(9th or 10th grade). Not grade-school-early!
Where does a kid get alcohol at that young age? Well, at home I suppose. If there's a 12-pack chillin' in the fridge or a bottle of vodka on the counter, that would be pretty easy access. I can see that. But still. Wow.
So this study suggests that we start talking to kids about alcohol prevention as early as the 3rd grade, because hey, if you've already been tossing 'em back since the 3rd or 4th grade, the little talk that they give in the 6th grade about not drinking isn't going to do much good.
"Children who use alcohol in sixth grade respond differently to messages about alcohol use than those have not used alcohol," said Keryn Pasch, M.P.H., Ph.D., University of Minnesota School of Public Health and first author of the study. "By sixth grade it's too late; we'll miss many of the at-risk kids."
You know, I consider myself a pretty informed Mama, and probably a little jaded. Since I try to stay on top of social news and trends (no matter how disturbing they may be)it takes a lot to surprise me. And truthfully, I wasn't exactly an angel growing up, so I know what kinds of unsafe, unhealthy, dangerous and damaging situations kids can get themselves into. But I have to admit... drinking in grade school sort of caught me off guard.
So according to a recent article, kids are swearing more than ever. No kidding. Walking through the mall on a weekend or day-off from school is like taking a stroll through a sailor convention. The swear words are rolling like waves on the ocean.
Swearing among kids is of course nothing new. Most pre-teens and teens accent their new found independence with colorful language. I can remember having a pretty spicy mouth back in the day. But I had enough sense to turn off the pepper mill in front of adults (unless I wanted to be sent flying across the room from an opened-handed slap to the mouth or risk the loss of an eye from a hurtling house slipper). I also watched my mouth around teachers, relatives and strangers on the street. It was a matter of respect for adults...and respect for myself. That seems to be the difference.
Now don't get me wrong. I can still swear with the best of them. But that type of language is reserved for certain company. I certainly don't swear at or in front of my kids, or around older adults (still the house slipper fear remains). I also choose not to swear in random public places because...well, it's just not a good look. But judging from the fact that I've come across plenty of Mamas who were perfectly comfortable cussing out their offspring in public, not everyone shares my viewpoint.
Again, it all falls on us, Mamas. Kids learn from our examples. My parents never swore around us, so it was understood that swearing was not allowed. And if I hear one of my kids swearing I have no doubt that the house slipper rule would instantly go into effect.
I think we all need to (at least once in during our Mama-lifetimes) take a note from this Mama...
It’s been shown that most kids experience a drop in self-esteem during the pre-teen and early teen years. This is especially prevalent in girls. I’m sure many of us can remember being active and outgoing in grade school, then hitting the skids in middle school. I know I did.
In a matter of 2 years I went from an outgoing 6th grader who was kicking butt in gym class dodge ball, outrunning most of the boys in my school, and pulling down straight As -- to a poster child of 8th grade self-doubt. Suddenly my butt was too big, I was too tall, I hated my hair, I wasn’t smart enough, my feet were big, and I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) run if my life depended on it. Basically I wasn’t quite sure who I was or where I fit in. Just like millions of other young teens.
Kids today struggle with the same issues we did. They want to fit in, yet they want to be individuals. They love and need their parents, yet they don’t want to be seen in the mall with them. They want structure, yet they want freedom. It’s an age of contradictions, and it’s nothing new. We went through the same thing.
What IS new are the outside influences. Madonna rolling around on the floor singing “Like a Virgin” 20 years ago ain’t got nothing on some of the stuff kids are exposed to these days. Shoot…have you SEEN Kanye West’s “Flashlight” video? And it’s not just media images that are more graphic, kids are dealing with real life issues of hardcore violence, drugs, and sex right in school.
So what’s a Mama to do (aside from rolling our babies up in giant bubbles and locking them in their rooms until they’re 21)?
We set boundries, teach them common sense and personal respect, and give them the information they need to make good decisions. It may not seem like much, but for a kid who's feeling insecure, confused, or just plain lost, those small lessons floating around in their heads may be just what they need to get through.
But what else? What else can we do to keep our kids grounded in this crazy world?
I'm a big-stinking-blog loser. Okay, that's a bit harsh, but the fact is, I haven't added a post in weeks, but with good reasons. First, work has been nuts. I usually sneak a post in on my lunch, but even lunch has been booked solid these past few weeks. Second, I've been hard a work on project that is very near and dear to my heart. MY BOOK!
Feel Good, Girl! is a non-fiction title for pre-teen girls that I started writing about 3 years ago. It's my way of taking the messages that I try to convey on this blog to the people who need it the most. Our girls! They have so much potential inside them and some of them don't even realize it. It's up to us Mamas to let them know that they can accomplish anything they want in this world with nothing more than what they have in their hearts…and in their heads.
I hope this book will help get that across. It will be releasing in April of this year. Learn more about it at myfeelgoodgirl.com
Ok..I get this... Really I do. I certainly understand that this could be a super fun place for a little girl to hang out with friends and get to feel grown-up and glamorous at the same time. And as a mama I am more than aware of the fact there aren't many places that you can take your daughter to socialize with other little girls like this. We just don't live in the same world that allowed 8-year-olds to leave the house with little more than a quick "Be back later, Ma!", as they trotted out the door. Ok. I get it.
But something about the whole thing leaves me sort of puzzled. Not to knock anyone's brilliant business idea (because we all know that these salons are gonna do very well), but why is it that whenever something great for little girls comes along, it always has to do with how they look? Lets do our hair! Let's get our nails done! Let's put on make up! Let's dress up!
Do little girls really enjoy this stuff (of course they do!) or do they just enjoy it because everything around them (dolls, television, books, parents, etc...) tells them they should enjoy it...because they're girls?