As children move on to second grade, their play becomes more and more focused on their own gender. Boys play video and trading card games that are of little interest to girls, while girls begin to pursue interests that are often seen as exclusively “girl,” such as social relationships, singing, reading, and dress-up.
Second-grade girls become intensely social and totally fascinated with each other. They are emotionally open, take everything personally, and express themselves with squeals of joy and tears and upset. The game they play every day is relationships: who’s “in,” who’s “out,” and especially who’s a “Best Friend” — at least for this week.
Other interests may include reading and dress-up. Girls sometimes read at astonishing rates, gobbling up all the books by one author in a month. Dress-up has always been a creative mainstay of girls. They can become obsessed with fashion, laying out a coordinated outfit at night only to completely change it the next morning.
By second grade a number of girls may have pierced ears. Yours may want to dress in flashier, more provocative outfits. She may like to dance and pose — many perform “concerts,” gyrating their hips and pretending to sing into a microphone.
Like boys, girls are exercising their mental muscles in their play: creating stories and characters, conquering worlds, coming up with rules for governance, punishing evil and rewarding good. Through their play they develop a larger world beyond their home and their parents. They strengthen their confidence and competence.
Their goal is still the same — mastery and playing “grown-up” — but when they start dressing like teenagers, many parents grow concerned. You may want to limit your daughter’s exposure to tween “idols.” Focus instead on creativity and healthy emotional connections.