The tween years, when your child is in limbo between the younger childhood and teenage years, can be a minefield for everyone. Believe me I know, after surviving it twice! So what have I learned? Crucially, this is the perfect time to share these important life lessons with your tween.
Things to Tell Your Tween Today
Tween is defined as the years between childhood and adolescence, in other words the pre-teen years of approximately 8 to 12 years old, when your child sometimes feels too old for childhood games and toys, but too young for teenage pursuits.
Puberty and hormones are starting to hit, mood swings are definitely likely, and your previously balanced child may flip between being happy-go-lucky and then having the weight of the world on their shoulders.
It’s crucial to remember that they are also struggling to understand how they are feeling, so reassurance and lots of cuddles may still be needed!
#1. I Love You
I love you and I know, even when you don’t like me much, you love me too.
I will try not to embarrass you in public with shows of affection, but I have to hug you sometimes, that is just what Mums and Dads do.
#2. I Don’t Always Understand
I have gotten the phrase “you just don’t understand” or “how would you know” thrown at me plenty in the last few years and the truth is: I don’t always understand. But please help me to understand. I don’t need to understand everything, but I would like to be here for you to help when I can.
#3. I Will Always Be There For You
We all do things we shouldn’t, even me, but please know that whatever you do or whenever you need me, I will always be there for you.
And try to think before you act.
#4. Stand Up for What You Believe In
Be strong – try not to give in to peer pressure. Be true to yourself. Be assertive but not aggressive and if you need help, ask for it, no matter how big or small the problem is.
#5. Friends and Family are Equally Important
At the moment if may seem like your friends are all you need, but family is important too. We will love you no matter what.
Remember good friends look out for each other and don’t pressurise you into doing things you don’t want to do. And everyone falls out from time to time, good friends get over arguments.
#6. I Will Try To Be Honest With You
I know you are growing up and pick up on more than you did when you were younger. I will always try to be honest with you and you should try and be honest with me too. Please ask me anything you want to know or are unsure about. There are no wrong questions.
#7. I Trust You
I know you don’t always feel that I do, but so long as you give me no reason not to, I trust you.
I can help give you direction, but I will do my best to let you judge situations and friendships.
#8. Trust Your Instincts
I know you want more independence and I am happy to work with you on that. But please, trust your instincts and if it feels wrong, walk away. Let’s set boundaries together, I will stick to mine if you stick to yours. But breaking them will have consequences.
#9. Be Yourself and Be Confident
From fashion to music, it is okay to learn from others but please make your own choices, be your own person, just be yourself.
Have the confidence to express your own thoughts and opinions and to make up your own mind. It would be a very boring world if we were all the same.
Peer pressure can be difficult – believe in yourself and do what is right.
#10. It’s Okay To Ask For Help
Everyone feel helpless or vulnerable from time to time. I am here for you if you feel that way, and we can work it out together.
I will respect your privacy and you can trust me always. I will try not to judge.
#11. It’s Time to Learn Life Skills
Now that you are getting older, I think it would be great if you learned a few important life skills. Maybe cook a few dinners (we can start with your favourites), how the washing machine works, how to fix a puncture on your bicycle, how to beat me at 25 or Gin Rummy, how to fish…or if there are any other skills you want to learn, just let me know.
#12. Read Everything
Read everything you can, not just to educate but for enjoyment.
#13. Don’t Believe Everything You Hear Or See
People will tell lies, from little white lies up to great big ones.
Your friends will lie about everything from their relationship experiences to things they have done. Trust your judgement on those and never ever do it just because everyone else says they are….chances are they are not.
And as for not believing everything you see….have you heard of Photoshop?
#14. You Are Only Responsible for You
Look out for your friends, but if they want to take risks that you don’t, walk away. And if those risks have bad results, remember you can only be responsible for yourself and your actions.
#15. It’s an ‘Always On’ World
Tweens rarely take, or want to take, time away from their devices in our ‘always on’ world.
It is important to instil a sense of understanding in your tween about how this mobile world can affect their lives, not just now but into the future. And how to ask for help if they are experiencing bullying or problems online.
Teach them that ‘anonymous’ does not always remain anonymous. Pictures and comments posted now will stay on the internet forever for future employers, partners and families to look at. So before they post, ask them to consider how they would feel if you saw it? And how would they feel if someone posted the same about them.
Try and get them to take a break from screen time, to read for fun, not just study, to hang out with friends or take some exercise or play sport.
Finally, try to learn about the sites and apps that they are using. Not all of them are suitable for their age group and they need to understand why that is, which means you need to understand why too!
#16. Change What You Can and Learn From What You Can’t
You won’t be able to change everything. Work on the things you can change, and move on and learn from what you can’t change.
#17. Get Out and Get Involved
It is great to play sport and be part of a team. It will teach you how to work with others, how to lose and win gracefully, how to respect authority. And you can have loads of fun along the way too. At this stage it is great to try out lots of different sports and find what you like best.
Find a hobby that you love doing, you will make new friends from other schools who share your interests. And when you move onto high school or secondary school, you will have the advantage of knowing students coming from other schools.
#18. It’s Okay To Have Time Out
School, extra curricular activities, friends, homework and so much more fills your days. It is okay to take time out and just chill in your space.
Hang out in your room, listen to music, make a craft project, read some comics or books. It’s also okay to still play with toys at your age, so if want to make some LEGO, colour a picture, do a puzzle or play with your dolls, just go ahead and do that…and enjoy it!
#19. Do You Want to Hear a Funny Story?
Sometimes injecting humour into a situation can help get the message across much better than shouting and cajoling.
Now your child is getting older, it is okay to tell them stories about your past (within reason) that may make them laugh and help them understand that you were a child once too. It shows them that nobody is perfect and that you trust them enough to share.
#20. Look After Your Money
As your child grows up, it is important to teach them about money management skills – the value of it, what it takes to earn it, how to look after it, and how to spend it wisely. You can do this by:
- Involving your tween in family purchases for things like computers, holidays etc.
- Getting them to help with shopping so they understand the value of money.
- Giving them chores so they can earn money to buy the things they want. Here are Chores for Kids by Age to give you an idea what they should be doing at this age.
- Teaching them how to save money too, don’t always add the extra to let them have something ‘right now’.
These lessons will stand to them as they grow.