Lessons children learn by visiting the salon & spa

Kids are jumping out ofthe sandbox and into the spa at younger and younger ages than ever before, butparents need to realize its okay for kids to take pride in their appearance, aslong as it doesn't take over their lives.

Spa themed parties are thehottest birthday trend going for the 12 and under set. Salons across thecountry have packages designed for little girls to indulge themselves and theirfriends with services that used to be reserved for moms only.

Little Miss Manicures, PollyannaPedicures, and mini massages and facials are all the rage for kids. In Little Rock,the Ava Bella Day Spa offers a pajama party package where for four hours thebirthday girl can partake in a laundry list of spa services complete withlunch.

"The kids just feel likeprincesses for the day," said Ava Bella Day Spa's Dee Dee Helbig. "It's just agreat way to celebrate a birthday or a graduation or a just because. That's whywe've brought it in because kids need it too."

Kids do need to know howto take care of their bodies, but an experience like this is a luxury.

"It really does helpme feel relaxed."

6-year-old Novella and 8-year-oldKate don't go to the spa on a regular basis, but when they're here, theyrealize it's a treat.

"Right after, I feltmy feet and it felt so smooth and I love the way my fingernails and my toenailsare painted," said Kate.

Statistics show girls arestarting grooming regimens at earlier ages than ever before. Many parents see the spa experience as a wayto teach their children life-long hygiene habits.

"Who doesn't want to be pamperedand feel special," said mom Angela Denton. "And we do talk about the importanceof taking care of yourself and taking pride in how you look and hygiene andtaking care of your skin and keeping sunscreen on and she realizes that."

Across town at Studio A, ConnieLester, a hair stylist and colorist for more than 25 years, says she's alsoseeing an increase in kids coming in for more grown up services. She sees girls as young as four and sixgetting highlights on a regular basis.

"I think it's apersonal thing," said Lester. "If the mother and the child sit down and discussthis and that's something they've decided, I think it's a good idea."

"While we haveoccasionally done a pedicure that was a special treat, we don't go on a regularbasis and they don't see me go on a regular basis," said Dr. Wendy Ward, achild psychologist at Arkansas Children's Hospital and mother of three girls.

She believes too muchattention on appearance can actually eat away at a child's self confidence. Dr.Ward says parents need to make sure their girls do a wide variety ofactivities.

"What we enjoy doingas a family are physical activity options such as cooking together and going tothe symphony together and other things that don't have anything related tophysical appearance," said Dr. Ward.

She says parents should remind theirdaughters that true beauty comes from within. It's the kind of person they are on the inside that matters most and notwhat they look like on the outside.