Tweens think categorically differently than they did earlier in childhood. They’re beginning to think more like teenagers, but they still have a ways to go before they begin to see the world the way adults do. Here’s some insight into the mind of the average American tween. Here's a look into your kid's mind and what he thinks and believes.
Thanks in part to the personal fable, older tweens and teens tend to take a number of risks, such as using substances in binges or having unprotected sex. In addition to feeling vulnerable, tweens tend to overestimate the rewards of risk-taking while underestimating the consequences. Risk taking shows that in your kid's mind, he thinks he's invincible.
Older tweens and teens also think that they are special and invulnerable, a belief called “the personal fable”. Like the imaginary audience, the personal fable arises naturally out of adolescent egocentrism. The personal fable is a healthy sign of cognitive development, even if it feels a bit irritating to everyone who has to deal with the “oh-so-special” tween.
In your kid's mind, everyone is watching, all of the time. If you wonder why your tween acts like people are examining her every move, look no further than her cognitive development. Older tweens and teens often believe in the “imaginary audience”, or the idea that a judgmental audience is always watching. This normal cognitive change results from adolescent egocentrism.
Cognitive development is to blame when your tween is embarrassed by you in public. Don't worry, this is a temporary phase, annoying though it may be.
In contrast to the many improvements in tweens’ thinking, one normal cognitive development seems like a backslide: older tweens are fixated on themselves. This belief that others are always paying attention to them is called adolescent egocentrism. Adolescent egocentrism increases during the teen years before eventually fading away. All those hours in front of the mirror, examining hair and make-up can be blamed on adolescent egocentrism.
Although there's still room for improvement, the logic skills of tweens are vastly improved over the early and middle childhood years. Tweens place less focus on outward appearance, have a better ability to place items into categories and understand that things can return to their original form. All of these improvements lay the groundwork for school success, particularly in math and science.
From improvement in memory to more realistic thinking, tweens’ cognitive development is leaps and bounds beyond that of younger children. Tweens also think faster, focus better and pay attention for longer periods of time compared to young children. Many of these improvements occur due to better insulation - or myelination - around nerve cells in the brain.