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Teach Tweens What's Really Important at the Holidays

Girl volunteering

​​As children grow into their pre-adolescent years, they spend more time outside the home and with friends, and are exposed to a lot more media messages beyond the influence of parents. Tweens are bombarded with advertising, both blatant and subtle, especially during the busy shopping season.

Developmentally, tweens are beginning their search for an identity separate from parents and family, so they are especially vulnerable to manipulative advertising that plays on their insecurities. They are anxious to "grow up," and marketers exploit this desire by targeting younger and younger audiences for products that were once considered only appropriate for adults.

We can relate to that feeling. Adults also buy into the hype of consumerism - a feeling that is only heightened during the holiday season. Just like our tweens, we hop from one "miracle product" to the next in hopes of buying a new and improved identity, or an instant wealth of happiness.

Help your tween separate fact from marketing: A product endorsed by their favorite celebrity will not give them a better sense of who they are. Having strong holiday traditions - making memories your child will always cherish - those are the things that will resound in their lives.

Here are some good ways you can spend time with your son or daughter, to help your tween develop the warm feeling:

  • Make special holiday memories with your kids. Do things that they will enjoy and remember, so that some day they might share those things with their own children.
  • Do volunteer work. Any community center or organization can advise your teen on how and where to begin, and the holidays are a great time, not only to reach out, but to reflect. 
  • Have your kids provide a gift for you, a sibling or a friend that costs no money.

Help your tween concentrate on making improvements based on actions rather than consumerism; he or she will be happier and more productive, and will know real warmth this holiday season.

From Who's Raising Your Child? , by Laura J. Buddenberg and Kathleen M. McGee.