38% of girls ages 8 to 12 told us they’re jealous of the way other girls look.
Believe it or not, you can help.
“I’ve had to give up a lot of things. I know that I have to make sacrifices, but I always get fed up when my one friend comes to school every week wearing brand-new clothes.” - Pai, age 13, Pa.
“My parents have had money problems for two years. Now we can barely buy groceries. I try my hardest to be brave and not ask my mom to buy me things. I can’t wait until I can get a job to help them out.” - Sarah age 13, N.H.
“My dad has been laid off for almost six months, and my mom is only an emergency substitute for my school district. She doesn’t get that much money when she substitutes. I don’t know how we’re going to afford anything!” -Kaitlyn, age 11, Wash.
“At our school, you’re popular based on your clothes and accessories. I’m always trying to impress the most popular girl with my purses and clothes. It’s got me stressed out so much. My mom can’t afford to keep buying me new stuff—she’s having money troubles and she buys me enough as it is.” -Kendyl, age 11, Fla.
Adjust your attitude toward “new.” When money is tight, everyone needs to make some adjustments. Your challenge? Stop thinking that “new” necessarily means “better.” Doesn’t last year’s field hockey stick have a nice familiar feel to it? Maybe your sister’s hand-me-down warm-up jacket will bring you good luck. By doing your best to make do with what you have and asking only for the things you really need, you can lighten your parents’ load a lot. Believe it or not, they really do hate saying no to you!
Become a bargain hunter. When making do just won’t do, it’s time to buy…but your old favorite stores may not be so affordable anymore. So what’s the new, penny-pinching you to do? Head straight for sale racks and less expensive stores…without complaining. So your jeans won’t have your favorite store’s name on them—everyone is making sacrifices, and this might have to be yours. Yes, this might add to your stress, if you start to worry that you won’t fit in without the “right” clothes or the cutest accessories. Don’t fall for that. Ask yourself this: Do you really want to be liked for your labels and your “stuff”? Wouldn’t you rather be liked for you?
Start earning. A real job just isn’t going to happen for a few more years, but that doesn’t mean you can’t earn some money of your own for the things you really want. That’s good news, because saving your allowance until you’re 18 to afford that iPod probably isn’t too appealing. Can you do chores around your neighborhood? Offer to walk dogs, pull weeds, wash cars, or keep younger children busy while their parents get chores done around the house. Are you super creative? Maybe you can make friendship bracelets or headbands to sell to your classmates. The point is, there are ways to get what you want, so start brainstorming…and get to work!
Start selling. Do you have lots of old toys, games, or stuffed animals that you don’t need anymore? Ask your parents if you can hold a garage sale, then get to work cleaning up and organizing everything. To make it more fun, invite your friends over to help out on the day of the sale. And while you’ve got a table set up, why not also sell freshly baked cookies—or those friendship bracelets or headbands you’ve started making? When your neighbors pop by to have a look, you’ll also have the perfect opportunity to ask if they need help with their garden or household chores.
Reduce your parents’ stress. Money isn’t the only thing that matters right now. You can do a lot to help your parents out just by…well, helping out. Do your chores without waiting for Mom or Dad to ask. Make an extra effort to get along with your siblings. Empty the dishwasher or fold the laundry, even if it’s not usually your job. Read your little sister a bedtime story. Cut coupons out of the Sunday paper to take to the grocery store. The list goes on…and on. Your thoughtfulness will make a huge contribution, even if there’s not one cent involved.
Spend time together. Your parents love seeing you smile. Making you happy makes them happy. Just because you’ve stopped eating out or cancelled a vacation doesn’t have to mean you’ve stopped having family fun. Some of the sweetest family memories can be created over a board game, popcorn, and mugs of hot chocolate. Or if it’s a hot summer night, drag everyone outside for a game of flashlight tag—yes, parents, too! Remind your parents that you love spending time together, no matter what you do. You’ll all feel happier.
When you’re going through tough times, you need your family more than ever—and right now, your parents need you. If you pull together as a family and help each other out whenever you can, you can get through it!
Originally printed in Discovery Girls magazine. Share this with your daughter.