1. How adored she is. No matter what you disagree on and even though sometimes you may yell, she should know she is the center of your universe — always.
2. How to cook. She should be able to prepare small snacks such as eggs, pasta, toast, sandwiches etc. My daughter loves to cook and letting them experiment enforces this life skill.
3. Body changes are coming and what to expect. She needs to know that along with these hormonal changes will come some emotional changes as well. I have bought my daughter a great book by American Girl called The Care and Keeping of You that breaks down the physical and emotional changes in a very easy to understand way. I highly recommend it or a book like it to assist in explaining all that is going to happen to their bodies in the next few years.
4. The harm of drugs. Unfortunately, no matter where you live, drugs are a threat to your child and it starts as early as 10 in some cases. Explain to them in no uncertain terms that no drugs are safe to try even once. Make them understand the tragedy that results in the use of drugs and how dangerous and illegal they are. I have made it clear to my daughter that friends will try to convince you to experiment and that she has to be strong enough to walk away, even if it makes her “uncool” to them. I have also let her know that when she gets older and is out and ever feels a situation is becoming unsafe or making her uncomfortable to call a parent to come get her no matter what.
5. At this age, it’s important for them to know something about the facts of life. I know it’s a tough convo to have, but you surely don’t want them getting their info on the playground at school. I don’t think they need every detail, but a small chat will help them feel more mature about body functions and will prevent crude talk about the subject that they may hear from other kids.
6. They should be aware how there are people all over the world and even in their own community who may not be as fortunate as they are. They should know that helping someone in need is a gratifying feeling and that the help they give may be the boost that person needs to turn their day around. Take them to a local animal shelter or a senior center and let them spend some time volunteering They will feel so good when they are done and it’s a life long habit of helping everyone should practice.
7. Money doesn’t grow on trees. I admit I’m definitely a shopaholic, but I try hard to make it clear to my daughter that nothing comes for free. I worked since I was 15 years old and that gave me the opportunity to shop and travel. She is aware that no work equals no money equals no fun. When she gets money for birthdays and holidays, her father has taught her to split it up into three funds: one to spend, one for emergencies and one for long-term goals such as college. She keeps three separate banks so as not to confuse her funds. It’s a good habit for them to get into and will keep them on track later in life.
8. Appearance is important. She should know that personal grooming and appropriate clothing for different events are something that will be necessary throughout her life.
9. Everyone won’t always be nice. My daughter is going into fifth grade and it’s the time that all the nasty girl drama starts. It was already peeking its head a little in fourth grade, but I anticipate the next two years is when they really get catty. I have talked to her about what girls get snippy about and how to stay out of the drama. You have to stay true to your close friends no matter what, and don’t be involved in groups that talk about other girls because eventually, they will talk about you, too. I’ve tried to teach her to be confident enough to hold her own, but aware of trouble makers and not afraid to report issues that seem dangerous, like extreme bullying or threats.
10. Life is not easy. There will be challenges she will face that will seem cruel and impossible. It will take her faith, her family and her perseverance to get through some of the things that life throws at her. It’s important to know life is going to be a series of ups and down and be prepared to deal with both.
Learning these 10 things is a good base with which to begin the tough preteen and teen years. Helping our children maneuver life is our jobs as parents, even if we haven’t quite figured it all out ourselves yet.