The tween years are filled with changes for kids emotionally, mentally, and physically. It's normal for moms to feel apprehensive about how those changes might affect their relationship with their child and parenting overall. Tweens begin to seek independence from their parents while focusing more on friendships and interests. This release of control can feel scary for moms as their tween spends more time outside the home. It's also normal to feel emotional when acknowledging your child is no longer your baby, but tweens do still need their moms.
Anticipating and understanding the changes that tweens will be experiencing can help prepare moms to support their 9–12-year-old. Moms should be able to look forward to this next phase and feel confident they can help their child navigate these years while maintaining a close relationship.
Here are the main reasons moms are apprehensive of the tween years along with helpful information to ease those concerns.
Tweens Become More Focused On Friends
Tweens are typically becoming more interested in spending time with their friends, and it can be difficult for moms to let go. Per the CDC it becomes more important for tweens to have strong friendships and to fit in with their peers. Feeling a need to be accepted can lead to peer pressure, another fear for moms. Stay involved in their social life by knowing who they spend time with. You will also want to get to know the families of their friends. Teach them how to be a good friend and how they should be treated by others.
Tweens Go Through Physical Changes
According to Healthline, tweens will begin to transform physically as they start puberty. Puberty can be expected to begin anywhere from ages 9-14. The hormone changes taking place during puberty will contribute to emotional ups and downs for your tween, or those mood swings others have warned you about. Be empathetic and help them to work through the physical and emotional changes. Talk with your child about the changes in their body and be sure they feel comfortable coming to you with questions. Promote positive body image and good hygiene practices.
Tweens' Interests May Change
As tweens enter middle school, they will likely begin pursuing different extracurricular activities, like sports or clubs. It's normal for them to try out several things before finding something they're passionate about. According to Verywell Family, you should encourage your child to fulfill any commitments they make, but then be open to something new. Moms can stay involved by attending or assisting in the extracurricular activities their tween is participating in. Finding ways to spend time together is more important than ever, so follow your tween's lead by showing an interest in their hobbies.
Tweens Test Boundaries
Moms should create rules for their tweens and teach them what is acceptable, whether parents are around or not. Explain your reasoning for rules and have conversations about risky behaviors. You will want to prepare them to make safe choices when they encounter peer pressure. It's true, most tweens will inevitably break a rule or shake your trust at some point. Avoid using punishment to shame your tween when possible, instead guide them to develop their own sense of wrong from right. As you've always done, you'll help them to succeed, but be there to discipline them in a loving way as needed.
Realistically, most moms have been hearing that warning, "Oh, just wait!" for every phase, from the terrible twos to the tough teens. Some years may prove more challenging than others, but rest assured that you can support your tween and find joy in watching their own unique identity emerge.