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When Tweens Test Limits

by Ronald A. Rowe | November 27th, 2014 | Behavior, Tweens

tween boy (400x400)Tweens test limits.  That’s just what they do.  From the best behaved to the most trying, they all test the limits of their freedom in one way or another.  It’s all a natural part of a child’s development.  Tweens are growing up and learning to distinguish themselves from the family unit.  Instead of being “just” your son or daughter, your tween is working to develop an identity of his or her own.  And, like it or not, your child will draw on examples from friends, TV, and movies in an effort to create an individual identity.

Your eleven year-old son may not consciously think that he will synthesize bits and pieces he emulates from the guys on his baseball team with what he gathers to be cool based on a character from his favorite TV show but that is essentially what happens.  The attributes that he sees in others that strike him as desirable become building blocks of his fledgling independent personality. Unfortunately, those traits that he perceives as desirable attributes may not jive with your list.

The characters and situations that are popular on TV shows aimed at this age group do not make it any easier to parent through the Tween years.  Total independence from parental involvement is a norm on Nickelodeon and Disney shows.  If parents or teachers are occasionally involved in the lives of the main characters on these shows, they (especially dads) are generally presented as buffoons whose authoritarian style serves only as an obstacle for our teen hero to overcome.

When your child starts acting out in a disrespectful manner, it is time to take a deep breath and remember that you are not alone.  This is something that all Tweens go through, to one degree or another.  No matter how much you would like to, you can never avoid these growing pains altogether.  But there are some things you can do to minimize the difficulties and manage the transition from child to teen (relatively) smoothly.

Tweens need to be grounded.  Not in the “no playing with your friends for a week” sense although that, too, is sometimes necessary.  Tweens need to be grounded to their family unit.  They need to be reminded that they are a part of a family and that nothing they see from their friends or in the movies supersedes the rules that you have been laying down since birth.  Modern pop psychology may lead you to want to give your Tween space to worth things out on her own.  While it is fair to say that smothering her with over-parenting is not the answer, too much space can be even more dangerous.

She may not realize it, but your Tween needs more family time.  She needs to spend time without the cell phone or the computer or her friends from gymnastics to just experience the joys of family.  If you make time for family, she will see that there are some pretty wonderful traits to emulate being modeled right there at home.

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