The tween years aren't easy for anybody, parent or child, boy or girl. But the preteen years can be especially hard on girls. Puberty is just the beginning. Before your child heads off to high school, she'll have to navigate her way through middle school, boys, body image, peer pressure and tons more.
If your daughter is just beginning her tween years, or if she's having trouble making it through these volatile years, fear not. There are tips you can pass on to help her adjust and thrive so that by the time she enters high school, she'll be well on her way to becoming the young woman you knew she'd become.
A Girl's Guide to Being a Tween
Puberty is Natural (but a bit of a pain!): Your daughter will likely enter puberty while she's a tween. Puberty can be scary to a girl, and all the changes they go through can make them self conscious. A good book about puberty will arm your daughter with the knowledge she needs to get through it. Be supportive and help her troubleshoot any puberty challenges she might face -- such as getting her period at school, or dealing with menstrual cramps.
Boys are Boys: It was only a matter of time before your little girl noticed that boys weren't as icky as she previously thought. Tween girls can go boy crazy, but parents are wise to temper the whole dating scene, until their daughter is older and a little more mature. The drama that goes with dating can be intense and distracting, and you want your daughter to focus on what's really important: her grades; her family; her friends; and her interests.
Middle School is Tough: OK, middle school can be difficult. Bullying increases in middle school, and mean girls are everywhere. But with a little preplanning, you can help your daughter deal with both. In addition, middle school is also a chance for your daughter to spread her wings a little. Encourage her to embrace a club, sports team, or student government. If she's not into any of those school activities, she might offer to assist a teacher after school, or participate in an extracurricular activity that she's never tried before. Offer choices, and she where she lands.
Peer Pressure can be Resisted: Tweens endure a lot of peer pressure. Pressure to fit in, pressure to wear certain clothes, pressure to date and even pressure to bully other tweens. Give your child the confidence she'll need to resist negative peer pressure. Encourage her to build healthy friendships, and to know that you'll support her through troubled times. Point out how some friendships can be healthy and others unhealthy, and offer the opportunity to broaden her circle of friends through extracurricular activities, summer camp, church or school.
There's Tons of Fun to be Had: Being a tween girl can have its pros and cons. Your daughter should know that these years are full of change and of opportunity. Help her explore her interests and talents, and be sure you take the time to bond with your child at every opportunity. Plan time together, and look forward to annual events that you know she'll enjoy, such as birthdays, vacations, summer break and more.
Don't Worry so Much: Tween girls worry about everything. Whether or not they're popular, pretty or smart. Whether they weigh too much or too little. The list goes on and on. You'll help your daughter by teaching her to put things into perspective and to embrace the positive. That will help her through her tween years, and beyond.