Dora the Explorer Grows Up and Gets a Makeover

Filed under: In The News

dora's explorer girls
Dora the Explorer is a spunky, kind-hearted, bilingual kid who spends all of her time outdoors having adventures with her dearly loved friends. Until she grows up, that is. Nickelodeon and Mattel announced their new Dora Explorer Girls line yesterday, marketed to kids 5 and way over. That's right...Dora is now a a tween.

The new Dora, who will be revealed in the fall, lives in the big city and goes to middle school. She still solves mysteries but she's abandoned outdoor adventure for shopping, jewelry and fashion. She's also computer savvy; her new fans -- other tween girls -- will be able to plug into virtual Dora playtime on a new site.

"(The Dora's Explorer Girls brand) empowers girls to influence and change the lives of Dora and her new friends," says a press release from Mattel and Nickelodeon. What I wish that doll makers understood is that power shopping is not empowering. We've got a market full of Barbie, Bratz and Polly Pockets that already do a fine job of teaching girls about lip gloss, heels and consumerism.

Bad Kid-Habits and How You Can Fix Them

    Whining

    TRY: "I can't understand you when you're talking in that whiny voice. Can you ask again in a different way?" (You have to say this at least 10,000 times before it works.) Hold firm with: "I'm sorry you're upset but the answer is still no."

    Zela on SXC

    Bad Kid-Habit: Screen-obsession

    TRY: "Hey kids, new rule: You can only watch TV [say your rules here]." Follow by posting the new rules on the fridge, which will give you the opportunity tosimply point rather than repeat the rule 100x per day.

    TIP: Refer to the Tips on the Bad Kid-Habit Whining slide to cope with what happens immediately after you say this and for the 7-10 days that follow.

    Annalog85 on SXC

    Bad Kid-Habit: Won't Eat Anything

    TRY: "If you eat that broccoli, I will cry! I'll do it! No! Don't eat it!" Follow with hysterical pretend-crying. For some reason our children love to watch us sob over veggies.

    TIP: You have to really pour on the drama for this to work.

    justinhenry on Flickr

    Bad Kid-Habit: Won't Get Ready

    TRY: We put a sticker chart by the door, and give stickers (princesses for our Little Princess, smiley faces for our Prince) every time they are ready at the door by 7:45.

    TIP: Give a small prize when the chart has 25 stickers on it. Something small. Like stickers.

    merfam on Flickr

    Bad Kid-Habit: Ignores your requests

    TRY: Wait until your child needs something (hungry, thirsty, help with a project) then say, "Sure-could you please just put your clothes in the hamper first? Thanks!"

    TIP: Don't repeat requests a million times, because that turns your voice into Background Noise.

    Johan Larsson on flickr

    Bad Kid-Habit: Won't Go to Bed

    TRY: Routine, routine, routine. After reading 1,000 books about this, routine is the common advice-thread. Figure out the sequence of events that works best for
    your family and do their bedtime routine the same way at the same time every night. (If you have a great routine that works, will you post it in the comments?)

    TIP: If you can incorporate things you say or sing into the routine every night, that's even better (like singing the same songs in the same order). Remember Pavlov?

    Robert Crum on flickr

    Bad Kid-Habit: Sibling fighting

    TRY: "Okay you two are not allowed to play with each other for the next 5 minutes. Please find separate things to do." (Follow up with suggestions so they don't just stare helplessly into the middle distance).

    TIP: This tends to make siblings unite against you in their desperate desire to play together. Really make them wait it out.

    hyperboreal on flickr

    Bad Kid-Habit: Dawdling

    TRY: When you need your kids to walk along say "Green Light!" and when you need them to stop say "Red Light!" Add in fun by saying "Purple Light!" and explaining what that means (skipping, hopping, or kids' favorite method of forward-motion: the Gallop).

    TIP: This comes in super-handy when kids are about to run too far down the block and you shout RED LIGHT!

    bjearwicke on SXC

    Bad Kid-Habit: Hitting

    TRY: When she gets that "I'm going to hit you" look, prevent her from hitting by saying "no hitting that hurts" and moving out of reach or holding her hands.

    TIP: Preventing hitting takes more vigilance but if you can do it, it's easier to correct the behavior rather than reacting once you have been hit and part of you is in parenting mode while part of you is distracted by: "Ow, my eye!"

    jmcknight on flickr

    Bad Kid-Habit: Clinging

    TRY: Cling back. This sounds crazy but worked for me-I tell my 4 year old "Oh my gosh, you are stuck to my butt! Please hang on! Don't fall off!" She laughs like crazy while I try to get dressed and put my makeup on with her hanging on. After a few minutes she's had enough and lets go.

    TIP: Finish your coffee first.

    Sarah Serendipity on flickr



Dora has always offered girls something different. I hope that tween Dora is still brave, active and doesn't mind setting herself apart from the crowd. I mean, her best friend is (or was -- no word on what's happening to Boots) a talking monkey. Can Barbie say that?

Maybe I'm judging the new Dora too quickly. After all, all we've only seen her silhouette. But that flowing hair and those long, skinny legs give me great pause. My three-year-old adores Dora just the way she is. But she also loves "big girls." The minute she sees Tween Dora, will her devotion to that spunky little adventurer fade for a fashionista middle schooler?

It's like this: When Dora first showed up on the scene, she was an adventurer. But then her cousin Diego came along and suddenly Dora's toys were offering girls two options: princess or babysitter (to Dora's twin baby brother and sister). My hope for Dora's Explorer Girls is that they open up a whole new world of choices for girls 5 and up, not box them in even further.

Are you excited that your big girls will now have their own Dora to play with, or do you wish that Mattel and Nickelodeon had just left Dora alone?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.