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The Terrible Tween Years?

by Michele | August 11th, 2016 | Communication, Tweens
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11-12-year-old-who-looks-unhappyYour tween wants to be a teenager so very badly. It seems that the world of a teen is much more exciting- able to go to more places on their own, later bedtimes, driver’s licenses, dating. Yes, it is an exciting world. But for now your tween is stuck in the land of in-between. She isn’t a little kid, but she isn’t a tween. Although she probably has an immense vocabulary, sometimes the tween years may feel similar to the toddler years, especially when it comes to expressing emotions.

Remember when your two year old would throw himself on the floor and cry, maybe pounding his little fists. It could have been because his blocks fell over or you told him no. Either way, he didn’t have the vocabulary to say how he felt, so laying on the floor and crying was the next best option.

Your tween may not throw herself to the floor, but she may burst into tears more easily. Your tween-aged son might do the same thing. Or your tween may express anger with a simple, “Mom!” or a slam of the bedroom door. Yes, your tween now has the vocabulary to tell you what’s wrong, but between not knowing whether she’s a kid or an almost adult and the rush of hormones, words may be hard to find.

How’s a parent supposed to deal with this? Having gotten through these years with my tweens, I have some advice. First, try to be compassionate. Remember how you felt at this age. (I know it was a while ago, but remember how it felt to be 12.) Second, don’t become walked upon. Being compassionate is very different than giving in to all of your tween’s demands. Have rules and guidelines, and stick to them.

Once you’ve gotten a handle on how you need to act, you next need to guide your tween on how he should behave. Of course, crying is fine; you just need to figure out what your tween needs. Some like to be held and handed a tissue; others need time alone in their rooms. As for anger, you need to teach your tween what is acceptable and what isn’t. Did your tween yell at you? Don’t yell back, but do expect an apology when things are calmer. (You also should follow this rule. If you raise your voice to your tween, you should apologize later also.) In regards to physical actions, teach your tween that actions that cause harm to people or objects are not acceptable. If he needs to be physical, suggest going for a run, hitting a heavy bag, or something else that lets him get energy out.

The tweens don’t have to be a terrible age (nor do the twos). With a little guidance and understanding, both parents and tween will make it to the teen years.

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