So you survived the oh-so-precious early years, the trying toddler stage and the fun early school age era. It turns out those little old ladies in the grocery store were absolutely right and those tiny babies DID in fact grow up much faster than you thought they would. Onward to the “tween” years, mama! Ya know, the block of time including ages 9-12! These incredible kiddos are wedged right between their childhood and teenage years. They are trying to find their footing while testing boundaries and (hopefully) learning a thing or two along the way. There is no manual for parenting, and by no means am I an expert. I do currently have two tweens of my own and suddenly realize just how fleeting the years are. Here are some things you should know when approaching this new adventure!
Let’s start here! During this time period it is likely that your kiddo will go through body changes and maybe even begin puberty. The truth is that they are not born understanding the importance of bathing daily. Let me repeat: They are not born understanding the importance of bathing daily. Introduce them to deodorant, remind them to brush their hair and by all means, enforce flossing (and no, I don’t mean the dance)!
Begin Each Day With a Grateful Heart
Life is certainly full of ups and downs. There is always always something to be thankful for. This is applicable all their lives. Set an example. Believe me, they are watching you!
Foster Their Interests
Step into their world and find out what makes them tick! Is it a musical interest? Maybe a certain sport or hobby? This is such a great time for them to explore their options. Enroll them in a camp or sign them up for a season. It’s so rewarding to watch them bloom into the person God created them to be with interests of their own!
Technology – Set Limits
The world today is soooo much different than it was when we were growing up. These kids have no idea what it means to rewind a VHS tape, to use a quarter in a pay phone or to research with an encyclopedia. Am I right?! They have the world at their fingertips…which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Boundaries must be set and agreed upon to avoid them stumbling upon something inappropriate.
Be their soft place to land. In a world full of uncertainties, make it known that they can come to you with their fears, questions and good news. Know their circle of friends (and their parents!) well. Know their favorite color, what they want to be when they grow up and what the best part of their day was. This will strengthen your bond.
Instill in Them a Moral Compass
As Proverbs tells us, ‘’Train up a child in the way he should go”. If you don’t, someone else will. It might even be a peer or a popular TV personality. Remind them (sometimes daily) that their decisions today can have a drastic effect on their future. Define appropriate behavior, dress and etiquette in social settings. More important than memorizing which fork should be used for salad, teach them how to firmly shake a hand, chew with their mouth closed and to write a handwritten thank you note. Remind them that the world does not revolve around them. Prepare them to look beyond themselves and to find a way to contribute to the world. In a world where they can be anything, teach them to be kind.
Let Loose. Be silly!
Have regular dance parties in your living room. Swap jokes and play board games. Surprise them with an ice cream run after bedtime.
Each and every stage of adolescence is amazing and brings about its own challenges and triumphs. Soak up the beauty of every moment, because you will merely blink and the next one will be here soon enough.