06/07/2009 04:53 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Ask Joanne - Smells Like Pre-Teen Spirit

What's your parenting question for our life coach Joanne Mallon? Send it in to this address and say if you'd like your name changed.

Linda asks:

I'd like to ask how to cope when your daughters are ten but sometimes seem ten going on 15. I'm wondering what I should do when I don't want them to be out of step with their mates, though I'm a little alarmed at the things they come home asking for, saying this is the stuff their mates are getting. Things like the latest gadgets, make-up/clothes I personally would consider "inappropriate".

How do you "protect" their childhood -- they'll have plenty of time to worry about boys/make-up/dressing up and all that -- surely 10 is too young?

Here's life coach Joanne's reply

Dear Linda

Girls seem to be developing younger physically these days, but not emotionally. I think you're right in that it's important to try and protect their childhood, without stifling their natural progression. All children will push the boundaries, but it sounds like these are boundaries you didn't expect to see for a while yet.

The fact this is not how you'd imagined it would be is a bit of a red herring -- you have to put that aside and deal with what is, rather than focus on how you'd like it to be. Your daughters are growing up, and like it or not, this is the start of things to come.

With regards to asking for stuff their mates have, isn't that a constant refrain of childhood? I still remember the girl across the road when I was little who had Weebles when I didn't. Other people's toys are always more attractive, it's just that the particular toys they're asking for now are raising your eyebrows a bit. They may ask, but it's still your choice whether or not to buy it for them.

Look for ways to support their development and growing independence, and show them that there's more to growing up than getting new stuff. One thing's for sure, if you ban stuff, it'll only become more attractive to them. So perhaps there are compromises to be made -- like they can have something if they raise the money by doing jobs around the house, or let them have a tiny bit of make up but only to wear at home. If you're banning something outright, explain why. And if you really want to put them off, get sneaky and take an interest in what they like yourself. Nothing makes stuff less cool than the fact that your mum likes it too!

Hope this helps, good luck


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