‘Tweens’ is a loose term to describe youngsters between the ages of eight and twelve. It is at this age that a child begins to grow up and develop more mature interests. Raising a tween can be a frustrating experience, but understanding what is happening can go a long way to keeping peace in the home. It’s important to remember that communication and tolerance are key.
Tweens fluctuate between loving and hating their parents and the mood swings can be baffling but it’s all part of the journey towards becoming their own person. You should try not to take the days when they “hate” you personally!
Impatience, anger and emerging sexuality combine to cause great confusion. One moment, the child feels like an adult and demands the accompanying privileges. The next he will return to being a child and will want the closeness of his parent’s love. The important thing is to remain stable and be there when needed.
Your child will not only long for independence, they will also become increasingly concerned with privacy. Bedroom doors and bathrooms will be firmly shut and locked. Your child may lie about where he is going or what friends he is hanging out with. While you should never tolerate lies, you should start allowing small margins of privacy which are in keeping with your child’s age and maturity. You should also make sure that your child realises these privileges can be revoked if ground rules are not obeyed.
Tweens enjoy spending time with friends and may begin organising outings with them to the cinema or a shopping centre. They may do this without consulting with you first. It is at this stage, that a discussion about rules, safety and transport may become necessary. Try to see things from their point of view and offer lifts and assistance as they stretch their wings.
You will notice that children are growing attached to their phones at a younger and younger age. Some parents take their phones away as a form of punishment. While this can be effective, it can also cause resentment and rebellion. Sometimes, it can be useful for a child to have a phone as it means they are accessible no matter where they are and can text for help in the case of an emergency. If their phone usage is within reasonable boundaries, leave it be and find another suitable form of punishment.
Attachment to parents
Surprisingly, tweens can often be the ones who feel guilty for leaving their parents and may even feel anxious at the thought of going away overnight, perhaps to a sleepover. Parents can help them by pushing them out of the nest and encouraging them to go and have a good time.
With experimentation and the desire to break free, tweens can detour into the shady area of mixing with bad company. Somehow it seems appealing to be friends with the bad guys, which can lead to them being in trouble themselves. Forbidding them to mix with these types, may make them even more determined. It may prove more helpful to invite them to have an adult conversation about the matter. Often a child will come to his senses in due course anyway.
The tween years can be trying for both the child and her parents but will generally be a mixture of good and bad, highs and lows. The important thing to remember is to retain a stable influence and reassess boundaries as needed. Try to keep your child involved in the decision making as much as possible as it will make them feel valued and respected.