I have an 8-year-old, I don’t know if he counts as being a tween but I do feel that he is definitely slowly turning into a breed I haven’t encountered before. There are loads and loads of mention of the baby years, toddler years and pre-schooling years out there so parents like you and I more or less know what to expect while we raise our little human beings. But there’s very little mention of the tween years i.e. 8-12 years old. I don’t really know what to expect. I don’t think I understand what they’re all about, their inner thoughts, how they relate to us parents and what their expectations are.
I’ve been noticing some changes in my eldest son these past few months and I realise that sometimes I don’t understand him and he might actually feel that i don’t get him. That almost makes me feel like I’ve failed as his mother.
So what are some of the transformations that I’ve noticed in my beginner tween?
- a decreased interest in toys
– he finds train tracks, LEGO, blocks, etc boring.
– he rarely joins us in board games like Monopoly, card games, etc
- ability to spend time alone at longer stretches of time (e.g. read, etc)
- being genuinely caring towards his younger siblings (sometimes)
- it takes more for them to agree with our points or listen to us
- gradually playing more with friends than with parents
– but he does still love it when we play catch with him and his brothers
Oh man, that word – moody – I don’t even know where to start. To give him some credit, it doesn’t happen all day long, but he does get moody, something that wasn’t in his personality prior to his tween year. Sometimes I ask myself if he’s depressed. I try to look for signs of depression in him, like was he sad, withdrawn, did he have a loss in appetite, etc. Whereas he does have problems staying asleep throughout the night, which has been in him since he was young, he does not express other signs of depression. So his mood swings must have other origins?
Read more: What makes a happy child?
It’s been in my mind for a few months now, thinking about what I did wrong that made my sweet angel so easily moody. So I finally came to some conclusion:
1. It’s a Cry for More Love
You know how it is. We have unlimited love but we have limited energy and time. So when our kids are independent, we let them be. We focus on the littler ones who still need us to do everyday things. But along the way, we forget that our bigger kids also need us. They no longer need us to tie their shoelaces, give them a shower or pour their cereal. But they need us on another level now. And most parents fail to realise that. They need us to be emotionally available. They need us to show that we still love them despite not spending all our waking hours helping them do daily tasks anymore. They need us to give them surprise hugs, tell them how much we love them, ask them about their favourite computer games instead of just asking whether they have completed their homework. They need to feel loved in a different way. It’s no longer about keeping them fed and clothed but more about recognising the individual they’re becoming.
2. It’s Partly Hormonal
I guess this is the only thing about the tween years that almost all of us have heard about. Hormonal changes contribute to the mood swings and emotional sensitivity during these years and into the early teens. One minute your tween is mild and courteous, the next he seems frustrated and upset over something so insignificant (to you).
Hormones – while it is a very valid point from a biological point of view, we can’t let it be an excuse for ourselves to let our children act out. We can allow them to have their mood swings but we still need to let them know that it is not acceptable behaviour to talk back, roll their eyes or argue with an adult. If unaddressed, it could become part of their personality as they move onto their teenage years and adulthood.
3. And Partly Attitude
You know how they think they’re no longer babies. They feel that they know more now, that they understand the world a lot better, that we’re not right all the time. This kind of realisation could make them think too highly of themselves. They might even think they’re smarter than us in certain aspects. It’s them trying to show to us that they are smarter and bigger now. They show frustration when they realise we’re the right one. They show frustration when we don’t agree with them. It is our job to teach them to have patience when relating to the people around them, that not everyone can think in the same way they think.
4. Your Tween Is Equally as Clueless as You Are, If Not More
And finally, I’m sure our tweens do not feel good showing their attitude or mood swings. But they can’t control themselves well enough to prevent it from happening in the first place, much like toddlers and their tantrums. Except this time they know how to regret their words and actions. When that happens, they get even angrier that they had acted in a certain way or that why we even allowed things to escalate.
It is difficult to understand how your daughter can discuss world politics with you one moment and have a full blown tantrum the next because you won’t allow her to have ice cream for lunch. Perhaps your son seems socially savvy, engaging in conversations with adults like a pro, “then why”, you wonder, “does he struggle to get his homework completed on time and/or prepare his own school bag?”
Our tweens are still growing and finding themselves. They’re still learning how to be a human being in today’s society and culture. Give them more love, guide them and most importantly, give them some time to find their way.
Till next week,
Lili is a wife and a mum to 3 boys. An aspiring writer. Adores creativity, art and beautiful creations. Dog lover. Gentle-parenting follower. Follow her parenting journey at http://www.happywehappyfamily.com where she writes about family happiness and how to stay connected to our spouse and kids.