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Big Kids

14th Nov 2016

Throw out the rulebook, there’s a tween in the house: Top tips for parenting your 8-12 year old

Amanda Cassidy

Welcome to the world of tweendom – where eye-rolling and emotional outbursts are new norm – and that is just you! 

Pre-teen or ‘tween’ is an in-between stage plonked awkwardly between childhood and teens usually between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.  Your little one is beginning to assert their personality but with no real control over their situation and feelings they are unfamiliar with – this is a time that needs nurturing with a focus on keeping communications open (if they can hear you over the din of ‘little mix’ blaring on the iPad.)

There are now fears that kids are learning too much too young. According to a survey by mumsnet website – childhood is officially over by twelve, thanks to a “toxic combination of marketing, media and peer pressure”

More than 1,000 parents responded to the survey, and a third of those thought the transition from Mermaids to Miley Cyrus started at about the age of ten.

Recently, Dave Robbins wrote an interesting article in the Irish Examiner about his experience with tweendom. He says navigating new attitudes is a challenging time and he complied some new tactics to survive the pre-teen years  (hint: no star chart)

1. Be the grown-up: Underneath all the sighs, eye-rolls and muttering, tweens are looking for help. 

2. Set the ground rules: Be prepared to let the heavy sighs go, but walking off in the middle of a conversation or shouting is not on.

3. Crimes and punishments: It’s time to set age-appropriate punishments for bad behaviour. Positive reinforcement doesn’t work with tweens. Removing devices seems to work. 

4. Make time to talk: It’s easy to sort of half-listen when pre-teen kids are talking. Giving them one-on-one face time, actively listening to them, sets a good foundation and means that later they know you will listen to them without judging.

5. Nest is best: Even though tweens are beginning the pulling-away process, they’re still kids and like to cuddle up at home too. 

6. Nice and slow: Tweens don’t have to know everything. It’s okay for parents to say “you don’t need to know that yet”. Parents can help slow the premature rush towards maturity.

Peer pressure can be overwhelming during these years and it is really tough to stand apart from your peers – even if what they are doing doesn’t feel comfortable. Instead of encouraging your tween to ‘just say no’ or exclude themselves, try to come up with actual strategies with them so they have an action plan should they not want to go with the flow.

A friendship tiff is huge at this age so treat anxieties with respect and try not to brush over it too lightly. A top concern is humiliation in front of their friends so if you have to chastise, try to do it aside from the group.

For children, it is an experimental time, working out what kind of person they are eventually going to become. Try not to take their distance personally.

Although they seem to be independent and confident, chances are that your tween will switch from her too-much-American-TV drawl, to still snuggling with her beloved teddy.

Tread lightly and embrace humour. Oh, and start listening to Justin Bieber. You may as well be the cool mum. YOLO.

Do you have tween problems? We are holding a FREE expert parenting workshop in Dundrum town centre next Tuesday 21st February at 09.30am at the moves@dundrum cinema.

Pop in and hear our parenting expert, David Carey explain all things tween and learn how to cope with this new challenge. Sign up below:

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