You have been through the Terrible Twos, The Three-nager, Fantastic Fives, Sassy Sixes and Sensitive Sevens. Surely that is it? Apparently not! Welcome to navigating the Tween-age years (ages 8 to 12), where there is a bit of everything and it isn’t even their final form. Fret not, here are some tips for a smoother sailing ride.
Set clear boundaries
Even if they may not say it, home is where they learn to navigate through life. It should be a safe place for your tween to learn that they will be respected, yet understand that there is a consequence for each action (1). In these days, it is not unthinkable that people (regardless of age) spend a lot of time in front of a mobile screen (2). Be sure to be a role model for your child; instead of requesting that they put away their phones, agree upon a period of time to put your phones away (e.g. during dinner). Not only will you become more relatable, it will also show them that they are valued.
Respect their privacy
As part of boundary setting, consider your tween’s need for privacy. While the idea of snooping on their internet activities may be tempting, do rethink that as it could be a stumbling block in your relationship building as it shows a lack of trust. (2) Instead, opt for the healthier option of speaking to them regularly, and trust them to let you know of things that requires your attention and/or guidance.
Build trust and independence
Encourage them to speak to you by keeping an open mind about the issues that they may be facing or mulling over. Allow them to build on their independence by asking for help with household chores (3), involving them in decision making, and helping with other aspects such as the planning of family trips. Remember that they are learning and assisting, so be immersed in the process as well (e.g. suggesting places and giving reasons for them). Be sure to educate them about money sense (e.g. How much should I spend/save? / How is the value of an item determined?).
Instead of focusing on their outlook or how they dress, help them to form positive body image through managing their emotional and physical well-being. It could be as simple as picking up a new hobby with them, attending self-help seminars, or finding strengths to be praised and weaknesses that can be improved. Teach your tween to take responsibility of their well-being, and reassure them of your support.
Reinforce values, keep the conversations open
There is no time better than now to reinforce values through asking questions and sharing of personal experiences. Listen to the entirety of their struggles, ask them how they plan to resolve it, or how they feel about the situation. Sometimes they just need a safe person to vent to, to be heard, and not necessarily a solution. Be sure to ask if they want to hear how you had dealt with a similar situation or what you think, before adding onto the conversation. Last but not least, don’t shy away from difficult conversations (4), be it about sex, bodily functions, alcohol, mental illnesses, etc. Instead, revel in the feeling that they feel comfortable and confident in you to share such thoughts