Staying connected to your child as they navigate through their pre-teen years (‘tweens’: ages 11-14) is not easy task but it is important – now more then ever. This is a significant stage in your child’s life because they are starting to become more independent and are discovering new things about themselves everyday. Girls become interested in boys, and boys become interested in girls. They rebel, try on different identities, and migrate to social cliques. A year ago they wanted to go everywhere with you but now: “It’s too embarrassing.”
The majority of little boys are pretty easy to please, they like cars and action toys; video games and superheroes. As they grow older they become interested in other things but most of the time they don’t stray too far from their core interest. The hot wheels may turn into model cars and then into the real deal; action toys may turn into comic books; their new superheroes may be athletes in their favorite sport. And video games will always be video games.
Little Girls are spicey from the start. Unlike their male counterparts, they mature pretty quickly. Many tween girls are desperate to be teens. The problem is, that not too long ago your baby girl was playing Barbie and singing along to Disney songs. It’s a little harder to stay up-to-date with the interests of a daughter who changes her favorite color every week and meets everything you thought she liked with: “that was soooo yesterday.”
Tips for staying connected: schedule individual time together, eat dinner together, stay involved, and stay interested.
Tween boys and girls deal with a lot of different things in their day-to-day, then most parents realize. Peer pressure, alcohol, drugs, sex, dating, bullies, increased responsibility from teachers, acne, self-esteem, body image, and rejection are a few of the things they face at school. If you tween doesn’t want to talk to you, don’t be discouraged… take the initiative, find a way to get them talking. Make sure that you really listen to what he/she is saying. Take the small opportunities to teach mini lessons. It’s your job to address difficult issues. Setting the groundwork for trust will invite your child to openly talk to you about other difficult situations.