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How to keep little girls from growing up too fast

In this past weekend’s Saturday issue of the Ottawa Citizen, an article’s title caught my eye. It was in the Life section and titled “More sugar and spice and everything nice: How to keep little girls from growing up too fast.”

This is something I really want for my daughter — a childhood. Not a frenetic rush into teens because of some extremely forceful marketing to her age group. I briefly scanned the article and then read the side-bar, which I’ve included for you below.

Six tips for success

Dannah Gresh’s six ways to foster age-appropriate behaviour in girls:

1. Give her dolls and simple toys for play.

2. Talk to her about her period.

3. Limit screen time.

4. When it comes to clothes, reject materialism and preach modesty.

5. Become the carpool/sleepover parent.

6. Dream with her about her “prince.”

Is it just me or did you hit #6 and throw up a little bit in your mouth? Yeah, me too.


  1. That dreaming about your “Prince” message is everywhere:
    Taylor Swift songs

    How about instead we teach a little self reliance.

  2. Have no girls but really, are any of these useful???

  3. I gagged. No throw up, just a gag. But I only have boys.

    This struck a bit of a cord as you can read in this long comment.

    Does the writer think it’s 1958? I tend to read between the lines:

    1. Give your daughter dolls and avoid toys that encourage independent thinking.

    2. Talk to you daughter about “that time of the month” but avoid graphic or particularly sexual descriptions. Preach abstinence.

    3. Limit screen time or particularly modern literature.

    4. Make sure your daughter wears dark drab clothing that covers her wrists and ankles so that boys don’t think she is wicked.

    5. No hidden agenda in this one.

    6. Seriously? What about personal goals, career?

    My friend’s five year-old daughter was playing princess a lot with an overbearing neighbour. Said little neighbour/friend was coaching her on how to be a good princess so the prince would choose her.

    Well, during one particularly exasperating play session, my friend emphatically told her daughter and her little friend that princes don’t choose princesses. In fact, often it’s the princess who does the choosing or the prince and princess come to a mutual agreement.

    I can totally see where she was coming from.

  4. I cringed at #2. I just ignored #6.

  5. Number 6 didn’t bother me, but 2 is gag-worthy.

  6. I agree about #6, but I don’t even understand the second one. Is it supposed to make them not want to grow up into women because of the mess? Seriously, I’m stumped.

  7. The whole thing is offensive. (I’m with Liisa.)

    So much wrong with this list. So much.

    I want to send the author a copy of The Paper Bag Princess.

    Girls should dream and dream big. Also get heavy doses of power girl rock from a very young age. All feminism, all the time.

  8. It sounds like advice from the 1950s! What does talking about period (which parents should do anyway!) have to do with the rest? Preach modesty? Yeah sure, don’t buy G-string to your 8-years-old but modesty?? Give her dolls… yeah, because Barbie is a real role model, right?!

    Silly list.


    this reminded me of this cute blog…. and a book that’s being released based on the blog.

    what about the boys? we want to keep them from growing up quickly too, but it doesn’t seem like such a concern. why is that? my son was in kindergarten with all his friends watching the Batman and Spiderman movies! in Kindergarten….. when we still had Sesame Street on at our place. long live Cookie Monster!


  10. I’m completely with you on that one. I’m so glad you said it.

    There was also a “best toys for girls” or something like that in the Citizen that had so much bright pink plastic on it that it almost blinded me.

  11. Ditch the list – it’s ridiculous.

  12. oops! I forgot to add that I’m laughing as I typed that comment. lol :)

  13. I’m going to go against the grain here and agree with #6.


    The wording is terrible (“Dream with her about her prince??), but the gist of the idea is sound. I think it’s important to talk to kids about what makes a good relationship. Let’s see: trust, honesty, kindness, humour … I could go on. And these rules apply to a future prince, princess, and BFF too. S I vote for keeping #6, just find a new way of phrasing it.

  14. I like the way Andrea is thinking about #6…the author’s wording is what makes it feel silly and old fashioned. 😉 And let’s face it, there’s a chance your daughter could hope to find the right princess some day and your son might look for his prince. Just sayin’.


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