Ask the expert: How do I stop my little girl growing up too soon?
Published 17/06/2011 | 16:59
Q: "My eight-year-old daughter wants to wear a padded bra and make-up. How can I discourage her from trying to grow up too soon without causing major arguments?"
A: Tanith Carey, author of Where Has My Little Girl Gone? How to Protect Your Daughter From Growing Up Too Soon (Lion Hudson, available now), says: "This is a tough one for parents because by the time it's flared up into a blazing row, you've almost lost the battle.
"But although many parents start off hoping they won't have to have this conversation, it's important not to bury your head in the sand, because it crops up so often these days.
"Ideally start early. Before she starts asking, explain to your daughter why you think little girls don't need cosmetics or too-grown-up clothes - because there's nothing to be improved upon.
"If the nagging has already started, then choose a neutral time - in other words when you're not arguing over the issue - to explain how you feel, and why.
"Tell her that children are lucky because they get clothes which are comfy, which they can play in and which can be washed easily if they get dirty.
"If you're worried she'll spot inappropriate fashions while you're out shopping together, vote with your feet, and take her to shops with a more responsible attitude towards kids' clothes in the first place.
"A fun alternative is to get her a couple of catalogues for retailers you like, and give her a budget to order her own outfits. She'll love exercising her freedom and independence that way instead.
"When it comes to putting her off wearing make-up, satisfy her need to adorn herself by diverting her on to jewellery craft kits. She'll spend more time making it than wearing it.
"On make-up, if she just wants to experiment, at the age of eight she's still young enough that you can also divert her towards face paints - and she can have fun drawing animal faces and shapes on herself instead.
"As a mum, be a good role model, and avoid making comments about how you can't be seen dead without your face on.
"Send the message that make-up is first and foremost to protect and enhance, not to make you look like someone you're not."