Tweens (children ranging 8-12 years) encounter a lot of changes physically, hormonally, and emotionally. How do parents and teachers prepare themselves to handle such changes? In this article, I share some suggestions and ideas centered around parenting or teaching pre-teens.
They are not in their early years anymore and they are not teenagers yet. Meet one of the most overlooked ages of childhood – “tweens” – children ranging 8 to 12 years.
While it is natural for children this age to transition from being dependent to becoming or wanting to become self-reliant, they still need a lot of TLC (tender love and care) from their parents.
Some of the underlying concerns parents and caregivers have during this age are:
- How do I spend quality time with my child?
- How do I get my child to strike a balance between academics and extra-curricular activities?
- How do I make the learning process meaningful yet fun?
- How do I discuss the value of healthy friendships with my children?
- Anger and frustration, lack of focus, too many distractions including screen-time – how do I have a calm conversation with my child?
- How do I equip my child to not give up so easily when the going gets hard?
- How do I build my child’s confidence?
Overarching these questions, in this article, I propose 4 ways to handle a few of the challenges centered around parenting or teaching pre-teens.
1. Open Communication and Dialogue
Pre-teen children undergo many changes physically, hormonally & emotionally, and sometimes, processing those changes will spark curiosity and lead to them questioning normalcy. Being open as a parent, family, or teacher to listen without passing judgment, discuss changes, emotions, perspectives, facts, fears, challenges, issues, worries, and peer pressure children encounter at this time – will give them a safe space to voice their thoughts and help alleviate their anxiety to a large extent.
2. Avenues or Channels for Self-Care
Not just do our pre-teen children need healthy lifestyles, friendships, and cup-filling activities in their lives beyond academics and sports, their grown-ups and caregivers also do. They too need channels to embrace and model healthy life choices, sleep patterns, digital detoxification, and ways in which they surrender to nature, exercise, yoga, spirituality, music, art, or craft to rejuvenate. Involving your pre-teen children in your self-care activities is also a great source of comfort for them and helps solidify your bond with your children.
3. Building Resilience
Sharing ways in which an activity or process can be made more efficient and effective without being condescending is an art. Without suggesting to your children how you can do something better than them, help them navigate a process by showing how you break a task into smaller manageable chunks. Show the pre-teen child how far they have come, climbed, and reached from their early childhood days by sharing videos, handwriting/drawings, or walls of their early work. Remind them how they have progressed in a skill, say cycling or swimming because of their tenacity and resilience. When they feel less brave or get stuck, work together to brainstorm, and question, “What are we missing?”
4. Empathy and Connection
We cannot learn to process our emotions without allowing ourselves to fully experience them. It is possible to empathise with your child’s feelings without changing your stance on something that you believe is non-negotiable. Empathising and connecting with your children shows them that they can rely on you to be their authentic selves. When they feel a BIG emotion, they need validation and connection. Not acknowledging or shaming them for their feelings will leave them embarrassed, lonely, and misunderstood. Thus, it is our work as parents, caregivers, and teachers to guide children through those feelings and not unplug or shut them down.
The pandemic and technology lately have played major roles in making pre-teens more vulnerable to the world around them. Parents and teachers in that light hold a significant place as calm and gentle guides, occasionally mentors-sometimes grown-up friends, and mostly strong pillars of reassurance, motivation, and support.
About the Author
Jaspreet Sethi is the founder of Math with a Smile and a mom. She works with children, schools and institutions, teachers and educators, and parents and families in making teaching experiences more meaningful. From student engagement to classroom management, from effective instructional planning to curriculum design & providing tools and resources for holistic development of learner communities – all domains are captured. Jaspreet has worked in the field of education with various age groups for the past 17 years and is well versed with the curricula and schooling systems across the globe. She is LETRS certified and is currently working on authoring a series of children’s books.
For more ideas, resources, tools, and strategies, stay tuned for Math with a Smile’s workshops with parents and teachers especially the “We Grow Together” series where tools, strategies, and resources are shared to cultivate and nurture independence, confidence, gratitude, resilience, social-emotional intelligence, focus, calm, meaningful engagement, and mindfulness in children ranging various age groups.