Your child reaching adolescence is a bittersweet time. Here they are, grown into their own person with a personality all their own. There you are, wondering where exactly your little baby has gone. That chubby toddler that once thought you held the answer to everything is now rolling her eyes at you from the backseat. Your precious little boy refuses to hold your hand or give you goodbye kisses now.
Take a deep breath, count to ten, and relax. We are here to help both you and your tween make it through this trying time, and have a little fun while you're at it! A little understanding and patience is a great start to having a good relationship with your child during this difficult time. Take a look at a few tips to help make life with your tween a positive transition into the teen years.
14 Consider Their Point of View
We know it can be difficult to deal with the shifting moods and sudden attitude from our tween, but we often forget what it was like for us at that age. Remember how it felt to be an adolescent? We felt that way for good reason: Hormones. Your tween's body is changing, and this does not go unnoticed by them. These changes can be confusing and even downright scary to them. Try to keep in mind how difficult it could be to control your emotions back then. Remember how embarrassing the acne and cracking voice could be. These things are very real and happening to your child right now. A little understanding will go a long, long way.
13 Do Not Think They No Longer Need You
No matter what brave face they put on around their friends, your child still needs you. They may refuse to acknowledge you in public, but you are still very important to them. What you think of them matters in a huge way, and is still helping to shape the adult the will one day become. Choose your words wisely. Do not talk down to them, do not criticize them, and do not embarrass them. Tweens are at a point in their life where they are trying to discover who they are as a person, and they need your help with that at times. Encourage their dreams, be their advocate and believe in them.
12 Techie Tweens
Like it or not, things have changed since we were adolescents. We are now in the age of technology, and our children are exposed to it more than some adults. These changes need to be taken seriously, rather than ignored. The virtual world can offer great things, but can also be dangerous. Your best defence is to stay informed. Make a point of learning about ways your child can stay safe while connecting online. Understand the apps they are using and the games they are playing. Be aware of who they are texting or chatting with. This is a good opportunity to have a family discussion about internet safety. Predators are a real threat online, and your children need to be aware and prepared.
11 They May Surprise You
You know your child better than anyone else. You have instilled in them morals and values that they understand. Yet, one day the school calls to tell you that your daughter forged your signature on a note about a low grade. You are shocked to the core. This goes against everything you have taught her! When you ask her about it, she simply shrugs her shoulders and walks away, totally unconcerned. How can this be? Puberty is a fickle thing, and your child is going to push some boundaries. Some big, and some small, but push them they will. They may feel pressure from their peers, or simply be rebelling against you for their own reasons. Sometimes they need to see just what your limits are, and how far they can push your love for them. Learning discipline that works at this age is simple, but you also must make sure that they understand your feelings are unconditional. They may act out, and they may anger you, but you love them no matter what.
10 Inside, They are Still Your Child
Believe it or not, your child is still in there. That same sweet, funny, charming child that you have always had. They will appear here and there, between the bouts of exasperated sighs and door slamming. Sometimes they will pop up just in time to save what little sanity you have left, and reassure that you are not making such a mess of things. Everything you know about your child still holds true, just in a different way now. They may be their silly self at home, but be more reserved in public. Perhaps they still crawl into your bed after a nightmare, but would rather die than admit that to their friends. Eventually they will reach a level of comfort with themselves again, and you can sigh in relief. For now, find comfort in knowing this, and take full advantage of those precious times when they occur.
9 They Need Your Help
Contrary to what they may lead you to believe, your tween still relies on you in many ways. They still need your help and guidance. You are still an influential person to them, and they will take heart to most things that you say. Be sure to speak clearly to them in a way that does not bring them down. Speak to them of your own experiences, and make sure they know that you understand what they are going through. Try not to nag, but do not take a backseat, either. This is a time when they need an adult in their life. It can be tempting to let them go about their business when they are coming home and going straight to their room, or over to a friend's house. Instead, make sure you are connecting with them every day, even if it's just to ask them about their day.
8 Tweens Are Still Children
Puberty is a complex time. Your children are growing into adults, and yet, at this stage are still very much children. They still need you to fix a booboo, or repair a favorite teddy. Your help with homework is still just as necessary as it was in Kindergarten. Some children hold on a little tighter than others, but it rings true for all. Their bodies may be changing, but they are still emotionally immature, and they still need Mommy and Daddy. Relish in the hugs they still need, and take notice of those couch cuddles. Although not a baby or a toddler anymore, they are still children and need to be treated as such.
7 They Have Questions
They may not always come forward with them, but they do have things they want the answers to. Your best bet is to have regular chats and encourage all questions. Do not shame them or refuse answers until they are older. Leaving a question unanswered may prompt them to seek answers from unreliable sources, such as the internet or friends. Be honest and simple, and try to put your answers into terms they can understand. There are several great books available to help you tackle the tougher talks. This is your time to make sure your child understands what is happening to their body, how to handle it, and how to handle things that will come in the future. Sex, drugs, self-esteem, peer pressure, and bullying are just a few of the tough talks you must face. Do not let this unnerve you, though. You taught your child how to use the toilet, now you can surely teach them about other natural body happenings as well.
6 They Seek Approval
Yes, even from you. Right now your tween is trying to discover just where they fit in, and fitting in is something they desperately want to do. They need approval to feel sure of themselves, and they need it from everyone. Set them on a good path for self-esteem. Speak to them about peer pressures, and that sometimes we need to be "not cool" for the sake of our own safety. It can be a delicate balance, but this is the opportunity to let your child know that you approve of them, and also make them understand that approval isn't always necessary. It is imperative that they know you love them no matter what. Through all the mood swings and back-talk, you will always be there for them. Remind them that you are proud of the adolescent they are growing into.
5 Tweens Need Sleep
Your tween needs about nine hours of sleep each night. Their bodies are going through a lot of growth and change, and they need their rest to accomplish this. It can be easy to up their bedtime as they grow older, and this is fine, but always be sure they are getting the amount of sleep they need. Limit the use of computers and gadgets before bed, and create a comfortable sleeping space in their bedrooms. Promote a healthy sleeping routine to ensure they can easily fall and stay asleep. This will help with their moods, school work, and overall attitude.
4 Let Go a Little
It is totally appropriate to allow your tween to put a little distance between you. It's a natural part of growing up. They need to learn independence, and they cannot do this if we never allow it. Sleepovers, outings with friends, and things of that nature are great for your child. You do not have to know about every single thing going on in their life, just as long as you are in the loop about the important things. Let them keep their crush a secret from you, so long as they know you are there if they need you.
3 You Are Being Watched
You are your child's insight into the world. You show them how to interact with people, how to juggle responsibilities, how to handle stresses, and everything else that comes with being a functioning adult. Keep this in mind all the time. Even when they are pretending you do not exist, they are always watching you. Kids have a knack for noticing things, and especially for noticing us when we are not at our best. It's okay to let them see you stumble, too, because you can then show them how to apologize and pick yourself back up. Model behavior you want to see come from them, rather than just expecting it from them.
2 Give A Little
You may not always understand the things they like, but sometimes you have to accept it and pick better battles. You may not be able to stand One Direction, but if your daughter loves them, don't pass too much judgement on it. What they like is an extension of themselves, and they can take everything to heart. Of course, you should not allow things that are not age appropriate or against your household rules, but as long as it's not hurting anything more than your ears or sense of style, then let it be.
1 This Too Shall Pass
The good news? They won't be this age forever. The bad news? They won't be this age forever. Your baby is growing up, and it can be a tough pill to swallow. Once you make it out of the tween years you get to face the teen years. Then, they are graduating, off to college, and then moving out into the world on their own. It's frightening and exciting all at once. So hold onto them a little tighter, appreciate even the bad days, and always make sure they know you are and will forever be their safe place to land.