Parenting Tweens - What Parents Need to Know about Parenting Tweens

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Parenting Tweens ...

... can be confusing and exasperating for parents, but imagine what it's like for a 9-12 year old girl (called a "tween" because she's stuck in no-woman's land between girlhood and adolescence) to try to figure out who she is and how to act in a culture that is pressuring her to grow up way before she's ready. In this article, you'll learn some essential tips for helping tweens through this transition, while keeping your sanity.

3 Tips for Parenting Tweens

  • Tweens are confused about their budding sexuality, even though they may not show it. Keep in mind that they are going through puberty far earlier than we did. Although they may look and act like they know it all, they do not have the emotional resources to cope with everything they will face. In the midst of this, they are searching for their identity (an identity that is separate from their parents) which means that they will alternately embrace and then reject their parents. Rejection may take the form of anger, impatience or outright defiance. What may be confusing to the parent who has little understanding of child development is that one moment, her child may act like she knows everything and the next, she may revert to child-like behavior.

    This calls to mind the contrast I often noticed in my step-daughter, even when she was in high school. One moment, she'd seem very mature with her womanly physique, big hair and kohl-lined eyes and then the next moment, I'd hear her giggling and talking baby talk with her girlfriends.

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    Don't take rejection by your tween personally, in fact, expect it. Rejection may take the form of anger, impatience and demanding behavior. This is part of the process that a child goes through when she is trying to discover who she is. Be her rock, but at the same time, don't ignore behavior that borders on disrespect.

  • Parenting tweens means talking to your child about sex, its consequences and how it complicates a young life. Discuss what it means for her to respect and cherish her body. Help your daughter feel good about herself, regardless of where she in her development, especially in comparison to well-developed peers. Everyone grows at their own rate and some girls develop faster than others. Breasts are mammary glands and do not define femininity. How your tween sees herself and how she behaves in the world are what define her. Make sure she knows that she can come to you at any time with questions or problems.

  • Parenting tweens often means allowing them to make their own mistakes. Reserve the need to rush in and fix your tween's problems. Refrain from being judgmental or harsh. Instead, be a model of serenity and a loving guide, who is present and accessible to help her resolve conflicts with family, friends, teachers and others. Help her see how she could have acted in situations where she acted impulsively or felt she had no options.

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Parenting tweens means walking a fine line between guide and parent. Don't be tempted to act like your tween or use her lingo in an attempt to connect with her. (This is the hallmark of an immature parent.) Instead, let you know you are there for her and she will seek your counsel when she truly needs it.

About the author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book Keepers of the Children. This unique parenting book uses native concepts to teach parents how to raise children to lead a life that is an expression of their natural strengths and talents. It also explains human development from birth to death.

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