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5 Healthy Habits To Teach Your Tween


What health habits should you teach a teenager daughter?

Erica, my 10 year old, has a white board. That white board is a window to her mind for me. She writes everything from her to do list to her feelings on that board.  Her messages range from, “I hate my mom,” to “Play school with Addie.”

My interest was piqued however when I walked into her room and saw this new message:

5 Healthy Habits To Teach Your Tween. Are you ready for a tween? Here are 5 habits you might want to teach them!

“Make Hygine Kit on 4/27/11” and It HURTS!!  It hurts refers to the rug burn she got when Nate tried dragging her out of his room when she wouldn’t leave the room willingly, but I didn’t know what she meant by a hygiene kit.

So, I asked.  Apparently, she’s putting together a toiletries bag for her trip to San Diego, IN JULY!!  My tom-Boy, get wet, play in the dirt, and then get wet again, all of a sudden wants to start using soap!  Well, I’m going to ride this train as long as I can!  So, we started talking about taking care of herself!

My running friend, whose daughters are adults now, has been telling me about the book, The Care and Keeping of You from the American Girl Doll Library.  Her daughters each had their own copy and loved it! So, I found a copy at the library yesterday (they had several, so I’m sure your library will have it too).  This book is awesome! Erica was reading it for hours last night, and would often come tell me things she thought I wouldn’t know that she discovered.  It’s easy to read with great pictures and a great outline to base great conversations with your daughter from taking care of their hair, to getting their period.

What are healthy habits to teach your tween daughter?

The transition from taking care of your little girl to having her take care of herself can be hard on both of you.  Here are a few things to talk about while they begin to takeover more of the responsibilities:5 Healthy Habits To Teach Your Tween. Are you ready for a tween? Here are 5 habits you might want to teach them!

  • The first healthy habit is to keep her body clean!

Keeping her body clean, now becomes her responsibility. You should talk to her about taking showers more often, washing her face, brushing her hair by herself, cleaning pierced ears, flossing, having fresh breath, taking care of acne, and cleaning under her fingernails.

  •  The second healthy habit is taking care of her underarms.

It’s time to have a conversation about B.O!  From the book, “Sweating is natural and healthy.. Luckily, keeping body odor in check isn’t hard.”  Then talk about deodorant and teach her how to shave her underarm hair if she chooses to, and when she’s ready.

  • The third healthy habit is to have a healthy attitude about body changes. 

Between ages 9-12, she’ll start to notice changes in her breasts and body shape.  Everyone is different and develop into different shapes at a different rate.  I love this quote from the book, “Your weight depends on how your body is built.  Also, your body hasn’t finished developing yet. Just remember, you were made beautifully.  Don’t listen to anyone who says you’re not!” (See my post on body image issues in girls!)

  • A healthy body includes, Starting her period!

While writing this My sister called to remind me she got her period in the summer before 5th grade! Which is exactly how old Erica is!  Most girls start between ages 9-15.    Begin this conversation with, “Your period is the period of time each month when fluid containing blood flows out of the uterus through the vagina. It’s a sign that your body is working properly.  It’s preparing to do the grown-up work of having a baby someday!”  It’s so important to talk about what she can do the first day she notices this and what the solutions are to keeping her underwear clean.

  • Lastly, talk about things she can do to stay healthy on the inside.

Fueling her body with healthy food by snacking smart, listening to her hunger cues, eating a balance of foods, and staying hydrated  the key.  Quote from the book, “What makes a girl glow from head to toe?  A daily diet rich in all the essential vitamins and minerals!”

Don’t let the changes that are happening intimidate you.  She will be just as anxious to know what is going on as you are.  More importantly, don’t leave it up to the kids at recess to teach her about growing up. Start the dialogue with her today!

PARENTING - 5 Healthy Habits To Teach Your Tween. Are you ready for a tween? Here are 5 habits you might want to teach them!


Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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I’m about to buy it too. Erica just woke up this morning and said, “Where’s the book?” cause I stole it out of her room to write the post. She really likes it!

Aww, your little girl is growing up! We used that book for my daughter too! But even though I knew all her changes were coming it still freaked me out when she started developing up top! 😀

What an important message! And I can’t believe your little girl is so grown up now. What has happened to the time? But it is fun, and I’m glad you’re her mom.

I know! It’s crazy. Your Erica will be there before you know it too. We sure had fun connecting with Becca a few weeks ago. She has such an amazing family. You did a great job in raising those kids Jill! 🙂

Excellent information, I will have to write this book down for when my daughter get a bit older, she is 5 right now. Or do you think she will benefit from it now? One more question…do they have one for boys! 🙂

Thank you so much for the great advice. I need to write this book down and start using it with my daughter! Thanks for never being afraid to share your tidbits of wisdom. They are always appreciated.

Stephanie-The book says ages 8 and up. I’m pretty sure you could wait a few years. A reader on facebook said there was a “Body book for boys”, I don’t know if it’s the same writers though.

Amy, this was great to read. My girls have that book too and it’s so helpful and explains everything so well. My girls are 22,14,12 so I’ve been thru this 3 times with them already and each child is different and handles these different, for those of you with more then one girl. It is a new experience each time with them and I get excited for them and feel the pain with them. Also Amy just want to tell you and your readers to be prepared for your cycles to change with your daughters getting their periods. Mine completly went out of control when my teen started then was just starting to be normal when 5 months later my youngest daughter got hers, then mine went crazy again for like 6 months. Now all of us are doing fine with our cycles. Just a head’s up, it may not happen to everybody but it did for mine. Also for those of you with girls who just don’t want to shower and bath as often as they should, make it fun for them again just like when they were little. I let mine have spa days on the weekends and soak in a bubble bath, I buy fun stuff for them to shower with and they each have their own things in a little basket. Just doing these few things makes something that seems like a chore into something fun. Now of course my youngest daughter has turned into a beauty wanna be and we can’t get her out of the bathroom now, funny how they turn on you like that. Thanks again Amy for covering all areas in our lives and not just the healthy eating part.

what a helpful post for so many Momma’s out there 🙂 I used to address these health concerns and changes when I taught intermediate/jr. high Health…whew, you wouldn’t believe the questions these children had for me!! YIKES!!!

I bought this book for my oldest daughter when she was about 9 and she has read it cover to cover to cover to cover over the years. I also think it has helped her understand the changes going on around her – with her friends – better too. She is the youngest in her class and she is little so many of her friends have been developing much faster than she is. Now I need to have her pass the book on to my 9 year old, because she is very tall for her age and needs to start understanding her body a little more. She is like your daughter – finally starting to understand what soap is.

Great post! As the mom of a 9 1/2 yo girl I can completely relate. My daughter loves to write out her feelings on white boards too! I will definitely get the American Girl book for her. And, also, I loved your post on body image issues in girls. I just did a nutrition talk at my kids schools, and I discussed this with the parents. I really emphasized that they stress healthy eating and activity in their kids as a way to make them FEEL healthy, happy, and strong, as opposed to LOOKING a certain (often unobtainable) way. So important!