Living With A Tweenager

First things first; what exactly is a Tweenager?

A tweenager is a child between the ages of 8-12 years, depending on which definition you go with.  It’s not just a made up word, unfortunately. The tween years have definitely been harder than the ‘school age’ years in our house. Tweens are a wake up call out of  the Golden Years of child raising; just in case you were looking at your 5-8 year olds and feeling slightly smug about your parenting skills.

We now have two tweens- a 12 year old and a 10 year old. Actually the 8 year old may also knocking at the tween door, but I refuse to have three tweenagers in the house. I have decided that DD3 is not allowed to be  a tween until DD1 has moved on to teenagehood.

From what I can tell from my own children, and talking to friends, a lot depends on the child. Some start early, some start late,  but at some point between the age of 8-12 years, your previously cheerful, compliant little darling is likely to start being disrespectful and moody for absolutely no reason at all.  Selective deafness, irresponsibility, selfishness and lack of empathy are all common too.  We’ve even had more serious episodes of  lying and stealing ( from their siblings); these are behaviors that our children know are just not on. But they do them anyway.

Tweens can be downright horrible, but then they flip back to their previous lovely child-like selves for a while. Just to cruelly remind you of what you once had. The suddenness of the change can be bewildering for everyone, including the tween and parents are often left wondering what they have done wrong.

How do you deal with a badly behaved teenager? Well, the temptation is certainly there to come down hard on your errant offspring.

Of course there have to be consequences for bad behaviour but remember , it’s probably not all the tween’s fault. People assume ‘hormones’  are the cause  of  some of this bad behaviour but it’s another explanation/excuse involves large portions of their brains ‘rewiring’ themselves. Tweens ( and teens) find it very hard to think about the consequences of their actions and are naturally impulsive and emotional. Sometimes the tantrums they throw make you think they have reverted to toddlerhood and that’s not too far off the truth.  Try and concentrate on the fact that at least you are probably getting more sleep.

When your tween goes off like a nuclear bomb, try not to take it personally. Give them some space and don’t get in their face, or try and talk to them about what happened, until everyone is calm again. If you were in the wrong in the first place, or you did something that made things worse, then apologise to your child.

Mine seem to have very little control over their anger when they get like this, and even perfectly rational responses to their rage seems to make things worse. I have to chew on my tongue but usually manage to let mine have the last word. It helps. What I’m not so good at is not yelling, which doesn’t.

When the dust has settled, and you dare to poke your head around the corner, you’ll probably find a visibly shaken and slightly dazed young person looking for confirmation that their parents still love them, despite their behaviour.

Listen to what they have to say, and then make sure you let them know what happened made you feel as well. Keep the lines of communication open, even if you have to fake an interest in boy bands or Minecraft to do it. Drag them out to family events and make sure they get some exercise and fresh air. Mine are not too old for cuddling.

family walk

And all of the time remember, tweens are just the warm up act, because teenagers are just around the corner…


4 comments on “Living With A Tweenager

  1. I’m in a post glass of wine (well actually several – yes I’m aware it’s only Tuesday, note to self order more wine) post £327 demand letter from
    School for 2 night residential trip (separate issue but makes wine much more understandable especially when delivered with 3 other requests for cash!) and the major feature of the night The Brawl (interrupted early and actually more like handbags at Dawn!). One emotional Son blamed on SATs other emotional Son as his Father told him he wasn’t prepared to contribute anything towards the trip or let him have his £70 pocket money he has up there. Eldest Son commented that Farger more than happy to pay for fathers gf stuff all the time, preteens really too young for the “welcome to my world”. I can do hormonal shut all on my own, his on earth am I going to bring them out of the right side of this????

    • That sucks 🙁 Do you have to pay for the trip all in one sum? Could you talk to the school about the situation? I know ours is quite understanding when finances are an issue.

      • Tbh, it’s not the money it’s the constant letters from school, the constant trying to explain to the boys that they are very lucky and have most things but I’m not made of money and trying so so hard not to let my bitterness show when parenting comes from one direction only, haven’t mastered that one yet!!!!! I’m bright, I’m educated and whilst Tweens and teenagers might be challenging, I know I can be the adult (thanks dairy milk/psych lectures) and cope. It’s the days that I want to act like a tween/teen that scare me 🙂 Remember when our Tweens were toddlers and we all loved the advert where the woman in the supermarket tantrums back? Can we do that now too???pleeeereaaaasssssseeeeeeee?????

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