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Keeping Up with Tweenagers

It is said that the teenage years are the most confusing, but in actuality, it’s the time just before the teenage years – the tweenage years. Here’s how you can deal with your tween’s 101 changes.

Ah, the tweenage years! Confusing and challenging, for both parents and children alike. I remember my transition period from a tween to a teen very well. Sudden mood swings, easily agitated and a whole lot of pettiness are just some of the characteristics you may find in a tween. But when it comes to accurately describing a tween, Forrest Gump says it best, “You never know what you’re going to get.”

We spoke to three parents with tweenagers at home to find out just how their child reacts and behaves.

  1. Parent #1
    “Our daughter is sometimes like a walking time-bomb (laughs), the smallest thing can result in the biggest reaction! She dislikes me choosing her outfits for her anymore and gets annoyed by anything and everything under the sun!” – Jasvin Kaur, property agent and mother of two.
  2. Parent #2
    My son has become so quiet ever since he’s realised that his body is undergoing certain changes. I’m not sure if he is shy, but he is definitely awkward about it. That is why I encourage my husband to spend more time with him. I’m just waiting for the day his voice breaks – only God knows how he’d react then!” – Erica Yeo, lecturer and mother of three.
  3. Parent #3
    Rebellious, quick in talking back, and often dull, I knew my girl was not taking the whole growing up change well. She can get really upset when her brother makes fun of her zits. Stephanie also ‘demands’ for more freedom and personal space.” – Veronica Liu, housewife and mother of two.

While this period can be a fairly bumpy ride for the family, it should not be hard work. Parents should first understand that most times, all the attitude, rudeness, and stubbornness are not done on purpose. In fact, your child may be feeling lost for not knowing the right way to address and talk about these changes they’re facing.

During adolescence, our children start to develop a sense of who they really are.

What you need to know
When undergoing the tweenage journey, children may go through not just physical but also cognitive, personality and social changes. Here are some of the main changes to be aware of, as shared by Dr Justin Coulson, author of What Your Child Needs From You: Creating a Connected Family, and what they mean to your family.

  • Physical changes: Dr Coulson says, “Physical maturation can sometimes influence the degree to which our kids experience bumps in adolescence. Starting to mature earlier or later than peers can cause social awkwardness. And puberty, in general, can create some discomfort in relationships between parents and children.”
  • Cognitive changes: While children understand the logic behind why something should or should not be done, their ability to think through the consequences for their own lives seems limited.
  • Personality changes: During adolescence, our children start to develop a sense of who they really are. Psychologists have called this an ‘identity crisis’ (it’s not a bad crisis, although it can create a lot of discomfort during this transition).
  • Social changes: While there are countless social changes for our tweens, the most substantial is the progression towards becoming independent from mum and dad. Some tweens begin earlier than others, but almost all tweens will want to spend less time with their folks, and will start to feel increasingly secure as part of a peer group, Dr Coulson adds.

How can you set things right
Just think of it this way – you managed to successfully survive the terrible two phase, and you will survive this as well! As much as your tween angers you, try to stay calm and as much as possible, put yourself in their shoes. At the end of the day, the key trick is to overlook small outbursts, as they are quite normal and a part of growing up.

Your job as a parent is to help your tween develop coping skills so that they can improve the way they react to bad situations and disappointments.