We’ve recently set up a Facebook collaboration with Child Eyes (https://www.facebook.com/ChildEyes) I found their page really interesting because they highlight the images that children are bombarded with that, it could be argued cause them to grow up too quick. At NLP4Kids we frequently work with young people experiencing issues at home and at school to reduce the negative impact of them feeling low at school.
One of the photos they published recently showed children’s magazines a shelf down from almost pornographic material in a newsagent. With scantily clad ladies all over the front cover it’s no wonder children have issues about body image and are becoming sexualised a whole lot earlier. Even puberty is happening earlier than it used to which is, I think worry. It’s as if the environment has influenced young people’s biology.
I remember when I started at secondary school and realising one day that my childhood was over. I still had my Barbie dolls and would happily have continued to play with them for a great deal longer. But the influences of the new crowd I met at secondary school, made my Barbie play not at all cool. It meant I was a child where everyone else was browning up (and seemed as if they were far more comfortable with it than I was.)
No longer did we play our usual games at break time, now we had to “hang out.” I didn’t want to “hang”, I wanted to play!
It didn’t help either that I was tiny and I remember one day getting changed in P.E and all the girls were talking about having to shave their legs. No one had told me my legs needed to be defuzzed – I didn’t get that memo at all! I was mortified to have to bear my tiny hairy legs amongst these lanky sleek legged young ladies. I remember it so well, I was wearing my Cinderella vest. Not only were vests very uncool but it had a picture of Cinderella on to which one smooth legged girl remarked “how cute.” I was furious, I was older than her! She couldn’t call me cute!
That evening when I got home the vest went in the bin. Barbie was packed away in a box and I escaped to the bathroom to use my mothers razor, with no really idea of how or what exactly to shave. But I shaved all the same. In fact the only part of me that didn’t get shaved was my head. I was also angry with all the grown ups around me who had allowed me to look like an idiot at school by not telling me about all of this shaving malarky that clearly was going to be essential to my survival.
Fast forward to more recent years and I found myself nannying for children who went to a Steiner school. There, it was almost as if children were encouraged to remain children for as long as possible. During my time with that family I did not have to witness the young girl become an adult one day because instead all of the things she used to do before, she felt completely comfortable to continue doing as she was growing up. It seemed much more as if there was a transition through development, rather than the leg shaving, vest wearing Barbie banning fiasco I had endured. Her childhood will slip away rather than being sent away.
But what next for children of this generation? How can parents, teachers and practitioners ensure a steady journey from childhood to adulthood?
By Gemma Bailey
Gemma Bailey is the director of NLP4Kids, a children’s therapy service that provides teen therapy and child counselling using NLP, a proactive alternative to conventional child psychology. If you are looking for a child counsellor to help your child overcome stress, depression or anxiety related problems or if you wish to book a workshop to help your child improve their mental health call 0203 6677294 or email Gemma@NLP4Kids.org
Gemma is based in Hertfordshire and works with clients in and around Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Watford, Potters Bar, Berkhamsted, North London and Hertfordshire.