Do you feel like your 6 year old is going on 16? If so, check out my tips on how to keep kids from growing up too fast.
“Mommy, look at this!”
To my 6 year old, “twitching” is the equivalent of “twerking”.
She turns around, bends over and shakes her little bottom at me.
Oh no. I’m going to have my hands full with this one, I think to myself.
But where did she learn to do that? I know that she’s not watching anything on TV that is even remotely related to twerking.
It must be school.
All of my kids pre-mature knowledge has come from school. Like the fact that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny don’t exist.
Private Christian school is too expensive, and my husband and I both have public school educations and we turned out great. Granted, we weren’t “twerking” at 6 years old.
Okay, truth… as I am writing this I can’t get Missy Elliott’s “Work It” out of my head, which I just now realized is not titled “Twerk It”. Haha. Yes, I am a ’90s child.
But, how do I make sure that my 6 year old doesn’t end up in a homemade rap video? And how can you keep kids from growing up too fast, too?
Check out these tips that have worked for me so far… ahem, besides this isolated twerking incident. 🙂
9 Tips to Keep Kids from Growing Up too Fast:
1. Allow them to be kids.
Don’t schedule “work” time after school time. Nothing makes you feel more grown up than coming home after a long day of work and then having to do laundry, cook dinner, scrub toilets, and vacuum the floors.
The same goes for kids. After spending 7+ hours at school, they need a break to be able to actually be kids. Let them play outside, ride their bikes, search for lightning bugs, and plaster your fridge with mini masterpieces.
Yes, it’s important to fit chores and homework in also. But, don’t contribute to your kids growing up too fast by not giving them time to do kid “stuff”.
Now that the weather is getting nicer, my kids can’t wait to come home after school and ride their bikes with their neighborhood friends. But, they also have to make the time to clean up their rooms so that I don’t go crazy from the mess. So we allow our kids to play for an hour and a half after coming home from school, and then they work on chores and homework.
This schedule works well for us, and allows them time to play, which is important to keep kids from growing up too fast.
2. Don’t pass off the reigns just yet.
You are still the parent. And you still know what’s best for them.
Yes, your 9 year old may want to stay up until 10pm to finish watching a movie, but if you know that she’ll have a hard time getting up for school the next day, then put your foot down.
As my kids get older, they think that they know what’s best more and more frequently. And even though I am slowly giving them more opportunities to be independent, they aren’t their own bosses just yet.
I still enforce bed times and hold them accountable for different household chores, sometimes much to their dismay.
On occasion, my 6 year old actually uses the phrase “Let me live”. Example – I tell her that she needs to stop painting/drawing/coloring and work on cleaning her room. She responds – “Ugh, Mom, let me live.” See, I told you I was going to have my hands full with that one. 🙂
3. Keep your kids close.
When I was growing up, my house was the place to be. All of my friends wanted to come over to hang out atmy house, which meant that I was pretty much always home.
Looking back, and now that I am a parent myself, I can see the extreme value in that. My parents always knew where I was and what I was doing.
And now I keep my kids close to home by welcoming the neighborhood kids with open arms. No, we don’t have a pool, an in-home movie theater, or a full-on game room like I did growing up, but we do have a trampoline and a pantry full of snacks!
And now I realize why my Momma always had a basketful of assorted Little Debbie cakes on our kitchen island. 🙂 Not exactly the healthiest snack options, but what do kids like more than carbs and sugared snack cakes?
I recently started the same thing at my house. My husband found a super nice, wood retail display in the dumpster area of a big box retail store. He brought it home and cleaned it up, and now it has a new life as a “Snack Shack” in our garage.
My kids’ friends know that they are welcome to the grab-and-go snacks and bottled waters on our snack shelves. And I get the peace of mind knowing that my kids are always close to home.
4. Don’t be influenced by peer pressure.
From other Moms, that is. You are your own Momma. Stick to your guns.
My oldest daughter is 9 years old, and it seems that more and more of her friends are getting cell phones. However, I don’t want to raise my kids to be dependent on electronics and to develop carpal tunnel by the age of 13 because of excessive texting.
I don’t feel that my kids should have cell phones yet, so I am going to hold off on giving them yet another electronic device, even though many of their friends have them.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “but, Mom, all my friends have a cell phone”. I’ve been seriously tempted to pull out the ol’ parenting response “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” but I haven’t gotten that desperate yet.
Moms raise their kids differently, and that’s completely okay. Keep kids from growing up to fast by not feeling like you have to adjust your parenting to fit what is popular.
5. Be protective, but not over-protective.
As your children grow up, they will naturally want to be more independent. Just in the past few months, I have allowed my daughters to ride their bikes by themselves out of our driveway and into a cul-de-sac right down the street from our house. That was a big step for me.
Last week, my 6 year old was begging for a little wider perimeter, so I told them that they could go an extra 50 feet down the road in the opposite direction of the cul-de-sac.
I’m not about to let them ride their bikes all over the neighborhood by themselves, but allowing them to venture out just a bit on their own gives them more independence while also keeping them safe.
Kids are just that, kids. They need to have boundaries that are in their best interests. Without these parameters, kids may be in danger of growing up too fast.
6. Monitor electronics usage.
Nothing says “grown up” like a gun-wielding video game villain, or a horror movie that would give the machoest man nightmares.
If you want to keep kids from growing up too fast, don’t let them be exposed to mature content. Monitor what your kids are watching on tv or youtube, and set parental controls for internet usage.
Young kids don’t need to be interacting with digital content that is meant for teenagers twice their ages. Unless you want your 6 year old twerking. And, trust me, you don’t.
7. Focus on Family Time.
Your kids are going to encounter bad influences. It’s just a fact of life. So make sure that they have plenty of good influences, too.
Eat dinner together every night, have weekly family game nights, cuddle up on the couch together to watch movies…
Or go to a ball game together.
To keep kids from growing up too fast, spend quality time with them.
Your kids notice whether or not they are a priority. Think about what message it sends to your kids if you always have your nose in your phone while talking to them, or if you aren’t excited to play a board game with them.
Use time with your kids as a silent, positive influence. Be accessible to them. Your kids are much more likely to discuss important “growing up” things with you if they are already used to dinner table conversations and quality time together.
8. Be careful about “play dates”.
Other parents may drink or smoke in their homes, or allow their kids to watch R-rated movies and use inappropriate language. And if your child goes over for a play date, then he or she will be exposed to those things also.
As a general rule of thumb, I don’t let my kids go over to a friend’s house for a play date without me first “checking out” the house.
Not to sound like a super-sleuth… It’s not like I’m going over with a black light and a drug-sniffing dog.
But, you can quickly get a feel for your kids’ friends’ home lives by just stepping in the front door and talking briefly with their Mom. I’ve usually been able to tell after just a few minutes of conversation if it is an environment that I want my child to be in, and if that family’s values align with our own.
9. Say “No” to mature clothes or makeup.
This is my 6 year old. In full-on red lipstick. This was a hard “no”.
Her cute sheer pink Lipsmacker, though, was a “yes”.
Avoid your kids growing up too fast by looking like they are much older than they actually are.
Set ground rules for clothing and makeup, and enforce them.
Isn’t it funny that we spend the baby years longing for our kids to grow up and be more independent, but then when they do grow up, we want them to magically go back to being little kids again?
I know that the bed-wetting, the perpetual mess, and the constant need for supervision can wear on you (if you’re really overwhelmed then check out this post on 8 Simple Ways for Moms to Avoid a Mommy Meltdown), but don’t wish away your child’s childhood years.
In the words of the great Dr. Seuss, who I’d venture to guess knew the importance of keeping kids from growing up too fast:
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”Dr. Seuss
Hold on to the moments that your kids are little. Don’t force them to grow up too fast by rigidly scheduling their time with tutoring and extracurricular activities to prematurely beef up their resumes. Spend time with them, and make sure that you enforce age-appropriate rules.
Your kids are little now, but they won’t be little for long. Enjoy it while it lasts.