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Jen

Ten Ways To Love Your Ten Year Old Girl

Posted by Jen on August 19, 2008 at 9:20 AM in JenRaising Girls
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10 year old madeleine
madeleine holding kris's son nathan

This morning, the magical Madeleine turns ten years old! It seems like only yesterday I was covered in spit-up, walking up and down our busy street, praying like crazy that anything, anything at all would help her settle down so we could all get some much needed sleep. I had no idea how much joy and happiness being the mother of such a wild, warm-hearted girl would bring me. Here's my list of ways to love a 10 year old today and everyday as she enters a new chapter of her growing up adventure.

1. Put her at the head of the table. That's right. Your girl has things to say and she needs an audience. By making sure she gets a turn now and then at the head of the table, you let her and your family know it's totally okay for your girl to command the attention of a room. You'll be surprised at how savvy she is and how much she has to say about things that matter to you, too.

2. Ask her to tell you her dreams and take notes. Inside every 35 year old mother is a ten year old girl trying to get out. Now is the time to give her hopes and aspirations full airtime--these tender dreams hold the keys to the truest version of her best self. Don't be scared if she says she wants to be the next Hannah Montana touring the globe--little girl rockstar dreams have more to do with the deep wish to be seen and respected than anything else.

3. Let her glory in every single moment of inflated self-confidence. Did she make the honor roll? Discover she can swim the length of the pool after all? Let her run with her happiness and pride as far as it will take her. Too often we encourage our girls to be demure and modest when a healthy dose of uber-confidence will take her so much further.

4. Ask other people to be quiet so she can finish her story. She's chatty, I know, but wouldn't you rather know every last thing on her heart instead of watch her sulk in the back of the car? Turn off your need to get her in line and take a turn listening to the twists and turn of her drama-loving life.

5. Indulge her promiscuous love of books. Turn her curiosity about grown-up things into a sophisticated knowledge of good literature. Now is the time to introduce her to the tried and true favorites of your own girlhood along with some new titles that will stretch her mind. This year Madeleine and I have had interesting talks about Iran and growing up during a revolution thanks to the brilliance of the Persepolis series (mother advisory required).

6. Turn up the music. It's not my favorite thing to do, always preferring the goodness of NPR to any top 40 pop music torture, but nothing means more to Madeleine than five minutes of her favorite music blaring out the windows on the ride to the grocery store. I don't understand it completely, but there's a certain kind of joy for her in this that you just can't duplicate anywhere else.

7. Remind her she doesn't have to be in a hurry to grow up. She's trying out her power moves, I know--groaning and moaning when you ask the simplest thing or waiting to see if you'll lose it if she dares give you the eye roll. Don't forget that underneath all that attitude is a little girl who probably still needs to sit on your lap, to have you brush out her hair or hold her every once in a while as she drifts gently off to sleep. Be bold in asking for hugs and insisting on tenderness between you in quiet moments. She needs it and you do, too.

8. Institute girls' night out. Admit it, there's a part of you that is dying to see the latest, greatest girl movie with all the cheese whiz and over-the-top acting. Here's your chance to do girlhood all over again, so do it right by giving your girl all the things you missed the first time around--time alone with your mother learning what it means to be a girl from her unique perspective.

9. Be her best cover. She's keenly aware of where your family rules fall in the continuum of lenient to strict in the kid stratosphere. Help her navigate the differences by being her best excuse when the invitations on the table feel inappropriate for your family's sense of sensibility. The same works in reverse when she knows your invitation will be met with reserve by more cautious parents. Let her know you'll help her not be embarrassed by the inevitable disconnects.

10. Dance with your girl like it's 1999. She'll love laughing at your moves and you'll be delighted to learn as she shows you a thing or two. Let her see it's okay to be silly, to not do it right and to let your heart go--especially for the sake of good-hearted fun.

What would have done your heart good at age 10? Add to our list in the comments below.

36 Comments

JessicaAPISS writes...

I love this list! Especially the head of the table idea. These ideas are about safe, appropriate girl empowerment and confidence building. love love love

Beth B. writes...

This is a great list. I have a 12 and 10 year old niece - so I found this very helpful. I have three boys, so sometimes I have trouble understanding girls (even though I am one!).

ginny writes...

What wonderful ideas to empower, encourage and prepare a girl for those dicey teen years!

tracey writes...

oh jen! this is an incredible list! you have the perfect perspective on a 10 year old girl. i will be remembering this list as i continue along the path of raising my 10-year-old golden girl-
http://maypapers.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-golden-girl.html

Anita writes...

Great advice Jen...for ALL girls...and women! I'm cranking the music now!

Marianne writes...

Great list Jen! Here is my addition:

Embolden her in her own body. Believe with her that she is and will always be strong, fit, fast and fabulous. Running, swimming, soccer, karate, dancing, yoga - whatever she is drawn to will be the right answer. Just make sure she explores and uncovers her physical strength, even if it means letting go for a while of your own fears and doubts about your own strength and physical greatness.

And if I can't convince you then read "The Frailty Myth" by Colette Dowling - it's on my list of must-reads for all parents of girls.

wilsonian writes...

Oh yes... this would have been an amazing way to be raised. And while I don't have kids of my own, I'm going to try to create this kind of great, safe, sacred space for my friends.

Anna writes...

Such a beauty-filled list!
: )
Thanks! One more thing..... take time to share a hobby with her. Even if it's something you thought you'd never want to do.... sharing a hobby will pave the way for making time together now and in the coming years.... (that's what I am telling myself anyway!)

Elaine writes...

Disclosure: I'm not a mom but I'm an aunt of two nieces.

Based on observational study of my own family I can say this is so TRUE!

My brother and sister-in-law used (and continue to use) these strategies with my nieces, some of them even before they were 10. Today, I'm the extremely proud aunt of 14-year old and 16 year-old self-confident, creative, strong, grounded, empathic and age-appropriate teens who are on the way to becoming responsible adults.

I'm going to send this link to my brother and sister-in-law because I'm also very proud of their parenting skills.

Related to "cranking the music"-- I frequently ask me nieces for music recommendations because I really want it. They have discerning ears.

Jennifer writes...

This is a beautiful post. So filled with love and inspiration and I love this picture of Madeline!

carol writes...

I have a 10 yr old girl. I loved this post. Thanks.

Heidi Renee writes...

fabulous list jen. i might add lay at her side at bedtime and listen as she processes her day. my daughter has chosen that time of the day to let me in - and while it's so easy to say "bedtime" there are nights when i don't that she pulls back the curtain on all of her rich and deep thoughts.

i REALLY loved the 'head of the table' idea - going to give that one a try soon!

Daphne writes...

So true and wonderful. I can't wait to have my own daughter (bio or not) and share these things with her. Your Madeline is a wild, wonderful girl.

Yogamum writes...

Fantastic, wonderful, thoughtful post. Thank you for this.

Marion writes...

I am going to do the write your dreams thing with my 10 year old who will be 11 next month. Thank you for this, just what I needed!

Bill writes...

I'm all for building up children's confidence, but if we did all these things all the time, wouldn't they develop a superiority complex?

katie writes...

love this, think it stands for sons too... :)

Mercedes writes...

I have a 10 year old younger sister who im not as close with as id like to be and have been wanting to establish a close bond with since we never really have, so I just wanted to say Thank You for helping me have a better understanding of ways to connect with and how to treat her so we can have more of a relationship then fighting! :]

Tina writes...

This is awesome! My girl turns 10 in 3 months and she, too, is a magical wild child. These are great ways to honor her spirit while helping her find her place in the universe. Thank you for the great advice!

Lisa writes...

I have a ten year old named Madison. I have always told her she has "mattitude". She has been a total joy these first 10 years. Ten is such a transitional year, going from true little girl to preteen. My advice to parents of 10 year old is to hug, cuddle, love, cherish and enjoy every minute of this particular year. Soon your sweet little girl will be a teen who wants to pretend like she doesn't know you when friends are around incase you might embarass her. :-) Enjoy, it's a wonderful year.

Lou writes...

Once in a while, my daughter and I would go to a proper restaurant - i.e., not paper napkins, either for lunch or afternoon tea, and discover new dishes and practice some old world etiquette - how to use the cutlery, how to break bread etc. . She just loves this - we get one on one time , she feels like she had a special adventure with mum, and goes home feeling just a bit more grown-up and sophisticated.

culo enormes writes...

well done. i'am gonna return in some time for sure

pene grandes writes...

me like THAT!:)

littlepurplecow writes...

Love this, Jen. I was so thrilled to get the link to this post via email from a good friend... and to find that it was written by you! You might be the coolest Mom I know.

charlie writes...

i want her to like me

SuzieQ writes...

That was the most beautiful thing I have ever read. I cried when I read this. I have a 10 year old. To me she is growing up so fast. It's all about friends and she know's how much she means to me and how I love to spend time with her. I will take this list and use it with all my heart. Thanks

Michelle writes...

Thanks for this, it is very helpful and insightful. I have a 10 year old daughter who is an absolute beauty. So loving and caring and on the other hand, iron willed and sharp as a knife. She does however sometimes invert and can be very quiet. She often complains of an ache her or there which i put down rightly or wrongly to attention seeking. (I remember doing it myself). I had a terrible childhood, I remember going for a hug and being told to get lost, not being allowed in the house until tea time and being hit for the sake of it. I love my daughter and whilst I am far from a perfect parent, the thing we love to do together is massage each others feet. It's amazing what comes out when she is so relaxed, we have some very serious and some very silly and fun conversations. Each time we do it, I learn something new about her and I love it. We do all we can for our children don't we, we don't always get it right but hope that we get it right enough that when they grow up they will still want to spend christmas with us and go shopping etc.

Shelmax writes...

I really needed this.
Thank you

Jacqui writes...

Thanks Jen!! I have a 10 year old sister and I was struggling on how to relate with her and build her up at the same time. Your advise has covered these and more. Thank you for reminding me how important it is to take the time to listen and be there for her :)

CheyenneThe Warrior writes...

im a ten year old wild monkey girl

Angelique writes...

Hi
I'm ten and these things are kinda what we like our moms to do here are some more

1. We want our moms to be creative with us take us some where on our own just us girls.

2.If there the older sibling(like me) they don't want there younger sibling getting almost all of the attention(it feels unfair to us).

3.Help us more like if we have a crush and our crush breaks our hearts(like mine did) be there for us and help us through it.

I hope your ten year old girl likes these because I wish my mom woulf do these things with me.

RiosKris writes...

If you are in a not good position and have no money to move out from that, you will have to receive the loan. Because it will help you definitely. I take commercial loan every time I need and feel good because of it.

Sally C writes...

THANK YOU so much. This list is a golden reminder

rhonda writes...

My ten year old Daughter Cherrish can be all girl, or get in there like one of the guys. I guess this comes from having an older brother (10 years older) and watching him play football all his life. Here is some ideas I have used...

1. Listen to her view of the "girl drama" going on around her and help her sort through it and find neutral ground. Teach her how to stand confidently in being a peace maker.

2. I love the turn the radio up idea...we do this a lot...morning routine on the way to school.

3. fix her a little of your coffee mixed with more sugar and flavored cream or hot cocoa...this makes her feel like she is as big as you are at times.

4.bring her small surprises sometimes just to say I love you instead of always waiting for birthdays or special holidays.

5. Let her play dress up...but let her also play in the mud and rain sometimes. It all comes off in the wash.

6. Hold her in your lap and remind her of how you talked to her and loved on her when she was a tiny baby in your arms..tell her stories of how she played and the funny way she said certain words.

7. Go ahead and buy those gold fish even if they will die in a few weeks, let her learn to enjoy things of life while she can, and that there is a time and a season to all things.

8.Have an all night slumber party just you and her.

9. Let her fix your hair and makeup and go out somewhere in public with it even if it is just to the gas station and back.

10. Teach her that mothers day out is important, and so is girls day...So when she grows up she will take care of herself also.

11. Encourage her to read by reading ahead and using clues from the book to search for in the house and in her reading.

12. Teach her she can be and do anything she sets her mind to by allowing her to experiance it in the little things now...My daughter says she may be a vet someday...we began fulfilling this dream by helping the neighbors with two different litters of pups...and now she goes over several days a week and walks the dog, plays with him and feeds him treats...

13. Allow her to do some pre-babysitting with another young adult. My daughter goes with my daughter in law and plays with the children she babysits on the playground and she feels she is babysitting also.( she even pays her a little bit)
I could go on and on but I wont these are just a few ideas...I love the time I have been able to spend with my daughter growing up...I agree teach them not to grow up too fast!
"smiley"
Rhonda

Ann writes...

I am happy to find a site dedicated to our precious loving 10 year old daughters. I'm constantly searching for new ways of understanding and helping my 10 year old. I love the energy (and the wildness) that my daughter displays each day. It's funny how she goes from being the "little" girl one minute that wants to lay her head on my shoulder than suddenly she wants to be the "big" girl that wants to make her own decisions and be independent. My daughter also is very loving and caring and at the same time strong willed (and demanding). I love the tips on spending "mom and daughter" time together. My daughter has shared many things and I have become closer to her during our alone time. I also have a 10 year old granddaughter and 10 year old neice and they have loads of 10 year old friends and cousins. They are over all the time and I hear alot of complaints of feeling different or not fitting in. I have explained to them each that they are just experiencing growing pains which is normal and happens at this stage. I tell them that they are unique and that it is okay to just be themselves and not feel that they "MUST" be like "everybodyelse". I teach them positive ways of accepting themselves and respecting the differences in others. I will come back to this site for more ideas and tips for me and my daughter. Thank you!

meaghan writes...

Ok im 10 i wear concealer and eyeliner and lipstick and all that crazy stuff. Yes i shave too i stay home alone and babysit after school, i have a boyfriend we kissed once on the lips.i haven't gotten my period but had puberty and none of these things on the list go into the lives of a ten year old if you went inside her head you will hear "Why are you making me talk.....why am i on your lap like im 5!Jeez i wonder what would you do if you found out about me having a boyfriend!" Stop treating us like baby's!

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