The tween years

Suffering a tween takeover? It's time to change tack

By Donna Fleming

Once upon a time, it was the toddler years that parents feared most. But now, stroppy, demanding behaviour is often associated with tweens – or eight- to 12-year-olds.

Kids this age are stuck in limbo. They’re growing up quickly, and while they may feel they should no longer be treated like little kids, they’re not quite ready to handle the extra responsibility of being a teen.

They’re starting to go through major changes and can begin to push boundaries. In some households, tweens rule the roost. An American survey found that in 29% of homes with children aged eight to 12, the kids have a major say when it comes to shopping for groceries.

In 27% of homes, their opinions “matter a lot” when it comes to choosing family holidays. And around 23% get their own way with regards to buying technology for the home. Parents often find the tactics they’ve used for dealing with their kids are no longer effective once they hit these tricky years. Here are some hints on how to cope with tweens.

Allow Space

This can be really tricky, but you need to give them a chance to do things for themselves, or they’ll resent you. Encourage their desire for independence, but set boundaries. For example, strictly enforce a time when they have to be home, or when you will pick them up.

Listen carefully

Many tweens start asserting their independence by pulling away from their parents and withholding details about their lives. Without sounding like the Grand Inquisitor, make sure you allocate time to chat to them about their day and pay attention to what they tell you. If you want to keep the lines of communication open when they are teenagers, it is crucial to initiate it now.

Be effective

Punishments that worked when they were little, such as time-out, might be inappropriate now. They may be happy to be confined to their room. Figure out what is going to have an impact on them. Perhaps confiscate their phone or laptop.

Embrace tech

If you still think a tablet is something you swallow, it is time to get tech-savvy. Your children certainly will be – and it is essential you know how to monitor their use of the internet, particularly social media.

Never cave

Once you give in to their demands, you are setting a dangerous precedent. But if they know from experience that you are certain to stick to your guns, they may decide that it just isn’t worth getting all worked up.

They need you

Young ones may act like they are 10 going on 27, but in reality, they still need to be aware tht you are there for hugs, kisses and affection, as well as supervision.

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