A "tween" by Wikipedia definition is : preadolescence, that is the stage between middle childhood and adolescence in human development in the range of 10-12 years old.
The tween stage
So your child is now a tween - they have reached "that" age of being not quite a teenager, and not quite a young child. They may feel quite emotional, perhaps wanting to be like a teenager, but sometimes reverting to childish behaviour. They want to be older but are still young and, at times, immature. Starting high school is when they will hit their "tween" stage.
For most children in this age range, they still want the security from their parents, but crave independence and more responsibility. They may mimic the actions and attitudes of older siblings and probably push the limits at times. It can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster at this time of their lives. Their bodies are changing as they hit puberty, attitudes and outlooks change as they make the change into the next phase of their lives.
Boys generally mature at a slower rate than girls, and generally like being outdoors playing/hanging out with their friends. They may start to notice girls at this stage and be keen to have a girlfriend. They may spend a lot of time in their bedrooms, paying more attention to their appearance, and becoming more private, which is perfectly normal. They will begin to notice changes in their bodies and their voice will start to change which can make them feel embarrassed and self-conscious.
Girls tend to prefer indoor activities and doing arty things at this stage. They, too, have started to notice boys and their heads are full of romance, fashion, dancing, gossip, make-up and sleepovers. At this age, they become more sociable and may want to go out much more than before. As with boys, their bodies are going through changes as puberty strikes. Emotionally, they can be over sensitive, moody and weepy preferring their own company as they try to deal with their feelings.
Parenting a tween
Parenting a tween, is a very important role that we parents have to do. We still want our children to feel that we are there for them. This is how I have managed this chapter so far:
- Tell your child that you love them every day.
- Set aside one to one time to spend with your child each day. Let them know that you are there for them if they ever want to talk, or get your advice on absolutely anything they feel they need.
- Show an interest in their friends and the activities that they are involved in.
- Set boundaries and make sure that they are clear on what it is that you expect of them. For instance, if you say they have to be home by a certain time, make sure that they are clear on this.
- Praise their efforts and successes - let them know that you are proud of them. This will encourage them to do their best and boost their self-esteem and confidence.
- Give them a bit more responsibility. Perhaps by giving them an extra duty or be in charge of something, they will feel like you are trying to treat them more as an adolescent. A reward for this could be a little extra pocket money, or allowing them to stay up a bit later at the weekend.
- Don't scream or shout - try to be calm when dealing with problems. Shouting never solves anything, and can make your son/daughter more defensive, argumentative or even withdrawn.
- Parents need an incredible amount of patience as tweens tend to deal with their feelings in private. I found that by buying my daughter a journal, she was able to cope with her emotions. Spending time alone is par for the course for pre teens, and their privacy should be respected.
- Try and make their home life as happy and stress-free as you can. This will make for a happier and more secure child.
- Safety is a big concern for parents as their sons/daughters start to lead a more active life away from home. It may be worth investing in a cell phone, to allow you to contact them or vice versa.
My definition of a parent
P - praise & protect
A - advise
R - respect
E - encourage
N - nurture
T - teach
S - support