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Tweens Need to Be Seen and Heard

by Michele | June 2nd, 2016 | Social, Tweens
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children--talking-with-adultsWhen I was a child and through my teen years, I would sometimes hear at the dinner table the old saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” (Now, I’m not of an age that it was a common way of thinking. I grew up in the 70s and 80s.) I despised hearing that. I had important things I wanted to share.

As a parent, I have made sure that my children, whatever their age, were able to share in family discussions. If business was discussed between my husband and me at the table, I would include the kids. We taught them about our topic, at their level, and explained what we were discussing. I encouraged questions and opinions.

More so than just dinner conversations, I encouraged my kids to be part of adult conversations when appropriate. You can’t expect kids to be part of the children’s group until the age of 18 and then suddenly understand how to be part of the adult group. By the time your child is in his tween years, he’s ready to participate in adult conversations.

In my experience it’s best to bring your tweens into adult groups where they have a level of familiarity initially. So if you’re at a family cookout and you’re talking about vacation travel, include your son in the group to give his feedback on a certain location that you’ve visited. By inviting your tween, you show him that his opinion is valuable and adults are interested. Similarly, be sure to listen to others’ tweens as well as your own.

You also can encourage tween-adult conversation in other situations. Remember how we discussed tweens wanting to go to the mall unattended? (If not, read this article.) Get your tween ready for this level of independence by having her make a purchase. The next time you’re at the grocery store buying a gallon milk or are at the food court getting a drink, give her the money to pay for the item. This allows her to become used to talking with service providers with support nearby and accessible.

Another area in which tweens can learn to interact with adults is at school. Obviously your tween sees his teachers every day, but now is the time to have him become his own advocate. If your tween doesn’t understand an assignment or has a question about a grade, you should not pick up the phone or send an email. Ask your tween to take the first attempt at speaking with the teacher about his concerns. He may be surprised at how well he can do this on his own.

It is crucial for tweens to learn how to communicate with adults. All too soon they’ll be seeking licenses, jobs, and other rites of adulthood. They need to be comfortable integrating themselves into that world of adults before they are actually part of it. With guidance and support they’ll make a smooth transition.

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