Our eldest is 10 years old and officially a fully fledged tween, but how do you know when you have a tween in your house? What are the behaviours exhibited by a tween? Is it there age that dictates whether they are a tween or not? Well technically yes! A tween is a child between the ages of 9 and 12 years old, but I am telling you we saw a lot of tween before we officially had a tween so this slightly tongue in cheek post will give you all the clues you need so that you know how to recognise a tween lurking in your house along with some serious tips for parenting a tween.
You might like this post: 8 year old boy hormones
What is it like parenting a tween?
I am learning quickly that parenting a tween can be a lot. Basically the tweenager years take the toddler years and laugh in their face. I don’t mean to panic you, but all of a sudden, your little love transforms into a prepubescent whirlwind of emotions and it is often a struggle to keep up.
Add to all the hormones the fact that your 9–12-year-old is careering towards the end of primary school and decisions need to be made about secondary school and frankly you have the perfect storm gathering. It is a storm that can often be found breaking over our house at the moment!! There are also some great new developments that are coming along with our eldest being a tweenager so really don’t panic it’s not all a nightmare.
What I am loving about having a tween
The really positive things about parenting a tweenager are how much they suddenly mature especially in their ability to take responsibility for themselves and their actions and their appreciation for the bigger picture. I have found that my tween for the first time can really see how his behaviour impacts on others and how he can help me to parent four children just by being organised himself. It is a joy to watch his thinking and confidence develop as he moves through the tween years. Whilst I was super nervous about it I have also enjoyed seeing how proud he is that he is allowed to walk with friends after school.
What is the hardest part of parenting a tweenager?
For me the hardest bit of tweenager parenting are the mood swings. I never know who I am going to get and it does impact his siblings as well. That is hard to manage especially as the solution to a moody spell seems to be lots of cuddles with mummy and with three other kids who also need attention that can be a challenge. In many ways, despite craving his independence and being more capable he actually often needs me more than when he was younger. He needs and craves more emotional support and often takes things out on me as I think he doesn’t know what to do with all these feelings.
We are working on building emotional resilience and awareness and encouraging him to talk about how he feels rather than bottling it up and then exploding, but it is a work in progress.
I must say I am also finding it hard to let go a bit. I am really trying and I am loving seeing who he is becoming now that I am giving him more freedom and independence. He is rising to the occasion for sure, but it also breaks my heart a bit to see him move a bit away from me…
The list of how you will know if a tween is lurking in your house
Here is a list of just some of things you may start to notice as you head into tweenager world. These things should alert you to the fact that you are now parenting a tween and if you start to see several of these signs at the same time I would start building up your resilience, stocking up your fridge and getting the tissues at the ready…
1. They start to look for independence. They want to be allowed to go to the shop by themselves or walk home from school with friends. This can happen very suddenly and without warning
2. They are making their own decisions about what they are into. They no longer want to do things with you just to spend time with you, but only if they are actually genuinely interested in that activity
3. They are increasingly wanting to spend time with their friends and you know that if given the choice they would often choose their friends over you
4. They are horrified if you dance, draw attention to yourself, sing or basically do anything as you are so embarrassing!
5. You are learning new words from them everyday and often don’t understand the language of the tweenager
6. Most days they have lost the ability to reply to a simple question with ‘yes mummy’ and a grunt is all they can manage
7. They regularly roll their eyes, growl, mutter under their breath or huff and puff when you ask them to do the simplest of activity; even if it is something that they actually want to do
8. You start asking them to help you as you can’t log onto the wifi as they have far more idea of what is going on with technology than you do
9. If left to their own devices you suspect they would rarely leave their room except for food or if the wifi went down to come and tell you that you have failed them entirely
10. You are no doubt way more familiar with Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite than you would like and regularly find yourself attempting to feign interest in a an attempt to maintain a connection with them and have a full conversation that doesn’t involve muttering
11. They still need their mummy… Cuddles are still requested and required and if you are lucky (as I still am) they will still hold your hand on the street and give you a kiss and a cuddle goodbye in the playground
12. They still want your time, but often on their terms so not when it is actually convenient. They are still children after all so still selfish.
13. You may start to find that you have some interests in common for example my son and I like to do bike rides and now he can actually go fast enough and far enough to make it a good workout for me too
14. They will be able to watch some more grown up TV shows so you can find things to have a cuddle and watch together which don’t make you want to poke your own eyes out..
15. They start to teach you about things… their school curriculum has suddenly become interesting to you and you get new facts from them
16. They might actually start taking responsibility for themselves when it comes to things like doing homework and remembering to take things into school – they will still regularly lose jumpers, coats, shoes and basically anything that isn’t attached to them
17. Money matters… they start asking to have pocket money and understand the concept of being able to do chores to earn money and that this means they can buy crap in Roblox.
18. They understand so much more of what is going on around them and have a perception and understanding of danger so seeing the news and what is happening in the world can trigger concern and worry
19. They ask questions that you don’t know the answers to as they try to work out life
20. You can no longer help with their maths homework without surreptitiously asking Mr Google and even then you sometimes struggle
21. Their emotions are all over the place (this started when our eldest was 8 and now the younger son is also starting with it aged 8. Check out this post to understand the reasons why). I recommend ducking for cover when they start as often, they don’t know if they hate you or want to cuddle you…
22. They discover music and headphones and know the words to all the latest tracks that of course you have never heard of
23. They know about Santa, but are not ready to say it out loud to you so they play along and dutifully write their letter
24. They want to watch films that are rated 12 because the PG ones are ‘babyish and anyway they have already heard all the swear words going’ *probably mostly from you under your breath as their tween moods start to wear you down*
25. They swear when they think you can’t hear and sometimes when you can hear
26. They actually never stop eating… *see number 27*
27. They are constantly tired, but are always wanting to stay up later than bed time. Their bodies are very busy getting ready for puberty which is a exhausting business
28. They can rarely offer more than ‘good’ or ‘boring’ when you ask them how school was
29. They will forget themselves and be super happy to join in with a family board game session or impromptu dining room disco at home and they won’t even mock your dancing
30. They will tell you they hate you and then that they love you sometimes all within the same minute – hormones again…
31. They will claim that everything that isn’t exactly what they want to do is ‘boring’ even if it is clear from their face that they were enjoying it
32. They will need time to themselves just to regroup and be alone
33. They will start pestering for a mobile phone for all those hugely important calls about Minecraft, Football and Roblox
What other things have you noticed about your tweenager?
I am especially keen to hear about some differences from mums of girls as I have that to look forward to in a few years, but for now have only experienced parenting a tweenager boy.