Such a weird word. Tween. And such an new and strange and important time. A tween, or preteen, is defined as the age between a child and a teenager, specifically the ages 9-12. Kids in the tween years are in this fun stage where, as a parent, you can start to see the fruits of your labor from the preschool years. They’re starting to do things for themselves. They can put an outfit together (or, mostly) and they have opinions on how they do their hair. They have friends, hobbies, and they may even have weekend activities or sports games. They’re in this in between stage of wanting to do things for themselves and prioritizing friendship and maybe even having their first crush, but still needing and wanting their Mommies around. They still need guidance, and they still need to play and be kids.
While I don’t have any tween children of my own yet, (my littles are 3 and 1) I’m a teacher of 4th through 6th graders. I spend the majority of my day during the week with 10 to 12-year-olds and I get to see them in an environment that parents may not. I see them in their raw, friends-only state on the playground. I see them trying to communicate effectively and problem solve as they work on projects or group activities with peers they may or may not get along with. It definitely makes me excited to see what my own two boys will be like at this age. I teach nearly every kid at my school and there is such a variety of personality types. So many different needs, different strengths, different interests and hobbies. With all these differences, there are still plenty of things that are the same for all the tweens I know.
- They are still sponges. We all know that toddlers and preschoolers take in and learn from every little thing in their environment, but I don’t think it stops there. The 10 to 12-year-olds that I work with see and perceive and remember all the things they hear adults say (and even some of the things we don’t say!) They’re always listening and learning from us, so we need to manage our tempers, watch our language, and be the leaders that they need.
- Set the bar high and then believe that they can reach it. If we teach them self-confidence and if we believe in them, they are capable of anything. I’ve learned that the kids who have someone believing in them are the kids that don’t give up easily. They’re the ones that meet the high expectations. They don’t settle on themselves or their peers because they also believe that they can accomplish great things. They still fail at things and fall down sometimes, but they have an intrinsic motivation to get back up and try again, and that’s a skill that every child needs.
- We can learn so much from them. Mamas, your kids are amazing little people. They’re turning into little adults day by day. The mindset and the habits that they learn now are going to make up the adults they will become someday. Pay. Attention. They can tell us so much about their world and how they perceive it. They’re learning about social injustices, technological advances, and whatever else is in the media. They’re hearing all of our political jargon and trying to make sense of the world outside of just themselves. They’re starting to form opinions on all of it while still maintaining a refreshing, child-like naivety to it all. They have fears, uncertainties, and shortcomings, but dang, they’re resilient little beings. They still find joy and laughter and fun in their day to day and that’s something we can all be better at.