By Heather Ortega, Beachbody Coach
I know she’s in there somewhere. I only see her on occasion these days under the sassy, moody and emotional little monster that has taken over my sweet beautiful baby girl.
My daughter Taylia is now 12 and life is one emotional roller coaster after another. Day by day, I’m learning something new about how to help her through this crazy time in her life so that I can help her to become a confident, independent young lady.
It sure doesn’t come easy though! As much as I’d like to say I can’t wait to get through it, I know these precious years will fly by in a blink of an eye and I’ll be kissing her goodbye as she heads off to college. And even before that- her first date!
Even though our tweens can take care of themselves, they still need us just as much as they did when they were younger. As we go through these years between elementary and high school, I’ve learned a few things I want to share that you may want to keep in mind:
The A to Zs of Tweens
Ask about their day, even though you’ll get a short answer in return. Eventually they’ll start to tell you more.
Bedtime: Ours still loves to be tucked in or kissed goodnight- keep your special routines.
Confidence: Tweens need it and I wish Vitamin C helped give her more. This one is hard but little by little confidence builds up as she takes chances, tries new things, falls down & learns how to get back up (with our support).
Daddy and Mommy are still needed; don’t believe them when they say they don’t love you or don’t need you.
Encourage and teach your tweens to be active and take care of themselves. There is so much pressure to be thin and perfect. Help your girls by setting an example yourself for her to make healthy choices a lifestyle.
Friends. You’ll never be able to walk around naked anymore. Friends are ALWAYS at your house.
Give your tweens compliments and praise for the things they do well.
Hug them often. They need touch just as much as when they were little.
“I Know”! They know everything and don’t want to listen to our advice. They’ll learn the hard way and eventually realize we were right.
Joke around. While you’re not supposed to be their best friend, show them a lighter side that they can laugh with and connect to in a way that isn’t just about rules or being told what to do.
Kids have (and dislike) Homework. This can be a really stressful time for families since homework can take up quite a bit of their time after school. Add in a tired parent from a long day, with a frustrated moody tween and it’s not a pretty picture for anyone. If you’re having a tough time helping with a subject, consider seeking help from school or a tutor. Having someone outside of Mom, Dad or an older sibling takes off so much pressure. A calm, quiet setting outside of home has been so helpful for our daughter.
Listen when they tell you a story. Don’t be too busy or distracted. Pay attention to the little things so they know you’re there for the bigger things when they come along.
Make time to do something special with your tween on a regular basis. Just the two of you.
Nagging! A study was done on nagging and showed that children whose parents nagged them often are more successful later in life. Good to know I’m on the right track! 😉 Read more here.
Outfits! Remember how much of a big deal your outfit was when you were younger? They still are right?! Being confident in what you’re wearing can make or break the day for you and your tween. I assist only when really needed on the I-have-nothing-to-wear-days. With help, eventually she’ll settle on something and make it out door. But usually, the more I try to help, the more upset she gets. Give them space and time — as long as they’re not late over it!
Periods. She HATES to talk about it. After we had “the talk” I just keep leaving supplies in her room so I know she’s prepared.
Quiet time. Between school, homework, friends, social activities and sports, tweens have a lot going on. Make sure they have time to slow down, rest, and disconnect from it all often.
Responsibility and expectations are important as they transition into high school. Chores around the house and learning how to manage their homework and studies will help them in the tougher years ahead when the teachers are not so kind and forgiving.
Social media. We are doing our best to avoid this until we can’t any more. There are so many things that open up when she enters this world. It’s addicting and will divert their attention from so many things they should be enjoying as a kid. It’s a scary world as well having access to inappropriate information and photos, not to mention the creeps of the world pretending to be someone they’re not. And, kids can be so cruel at this age. Monitor use and be sure they know the dangers that come along with these apps. Talk to your tweens regularly.
Tears. Expect them often. Give her time to calm down and then help her figure things out.
Understand all the changes that are happening not only outside but INSIDE as well. Their brains are rewiring & hormonal changes are at work, too. The adolescent brain pours out adrenal stress hormones, sex hormones, and growth hormone, which in turn influence brain development. A LOT is going on, so keep in mind that many of the things happening is beyond their control & they need your help getting through it. I found this article interesting about what’s going on inside their little heads.
Vaccines. This is the time we decide about the HPV vaccine. This is a much debated about topic. Be sure you research for yourself arm yourself with information to make the best decision for you and your child.
Whereabouts. Our babies are not always under our wing anymore. Establish an open line of communication and expectations about where they are going to be, as well as have them check in and let you know they arrived safely. There are apps such as Footprints to let you know your child has arrived to and from school safely.
seX. Whoa. When do you talk about this?! It’s better to open the subject up so they know when they have questions that they can come to you and not feel scared or embarrassed.
Yelling only makes things worse. They’ll need to be reminded to keep calm when they’re upset. Keep YOUR cool. Our tweens aren’t learning how to manage her feelings if we yell back.
Zzzzz. Sleep is just as important to a tween as a toddler. Tantrums happen now too. They just include slamming doors with the tears.
With so many changes happening it’s easy to get frustrated and lose control. Just like babies and toddlers, tweens need help learning how to cope with all the changes they are going through.
I wish you lots of luck and patience in these in-between years!
What are your best strategies for dealing with the tween years?
Beachbody Fitness Coach
Mama of a tween & a preschooler, Wifey to a national recording artist & Fitness Coach with Beachbody, juggling it all day by day to be the best version of me & inspire others. Motivating Moms is my passion.