Tweens can be complicated and moody. In order to help your tween through this transitional phase to adolescence, you must first put yourself in his shoes. Below are steps you can take to know, understand and relate to your tween.
Is your child approaching this dynamic and transitional phase of development, or is she already there? Is she ready for the next few years? Are you? Tweens (also known as preteens) are wedged in between two worlds. They aren't yet teenagers, but they're no longer little kids either. This phase of development presents many challenges and joys to parents. Watching your child inch towards adolescence can be difficult, especially when you know all the difficulties ahead. On the other hand, your tween will grow, and learn in dramatic ways these next few years, and you get a front-row seat to watch it all.
Try to remember all the changes you went through between the ages of 9 and 12. It's mind boggling, but tweens are up to the challenge, as long as they have parental support. Some of the more difficult challenges your child will face include puberty, entering middle school, and dealing with social problems and peer pressure. Remember that your child's biggest resource for making sense of these challenges is you. You can help your tween embrace the changes of puberty, conquer the challenges of middle school, and learn to deal with difficult peers. You can do all of this because you were once a tween yourself, and you've already faced these challenges head-on.
In the tween years children begin withdrawing from their families and expanding their circle of friends. Don't worry, this is a normal part of growing up. Your tween may prefer to spend Friday night with his friends from school over staying at home for family movie night. Don't take it personally, it's all a part of growing up and becoming independent. However, you still need to make sure that you and your tween find time to bond together and interact with one another. It's also important to learn as much as you can about your child's friends. Keep in touch with other parents so you know what's happening in your community. Also, include your tween's friends occasionally in family activities or invite them over for sleepovers.
It's hard to believe that children as young as 9 may suffer from depression, but it happens. Remember your tween is up against quite a bit in just a few short years and that can be overwhelming at times. Bullying, increased homework, friend difficulties and puberty all provide stress and anxiety. And today's tweens are even involved in dating, which can bring a whole new list of anxieties your child has never known before. Knowing the signs of depression in tweens is the first step to helping them overcome their situation.
Homework, testing, lack of sleep and schedules that are overbooked with activities may lead to stress. But you can reduce your child's stress by stepping in when you think life's demands are becoming too much for him. Cut back on activities if his schedule doesn't allow for free time, and make sure your child is getting the nutrition and sleep that his development demands. Addressing stress and preventing it will help your tween make it through these next four years of development.
It's an even bigger transition than entering high school, however parents can do a lot to prepare their tweens for middle school. Remember to begin preparing your tween for middle school in his final year of elementary school. That will give him, and you, the opportunity to make the transition as smooth as possible.
There's never been a group of children who know more about computers and technology. But there should be some limitations placed on your tween's computer habits. If your tween knows more about computers, social networking and the Internet than you do, than it might be time to ask your child for a few lessons. Sit down with him to learn where tweens are going online, and take the time to check-out your child's favorite websites. Be sure you make your family rules and values very clear to him, and enforce consequences if he decides not to follow your rules concerning online behavior.
Don't take it personally, but your tween probably doesn't think you're as perfect as he once did. Knowing how to handle your tween's feelings about you will save him from embarrassment, and you from hurt feelings.