Kids grow up so fast. One day they’re playing in their crib, the next, graduating from high school. Through it all, there’s a lot of change, both physically and emotionally, and with it, many phases that are just a part of growing up. However, when you’re at the receiving end of the “eye roll” or slamming door, it feels like it’s never going to end.
To help you get through the tween years, we asked mothers who have survived the tween phase to share their best advice on how to parent preteens.
Here are their parenting tips for you:
- Make sure they know they can call you anytime for anything, with no judgment.
- Always make time for hugs.
- Never hesitate to volunteer to drive your tween and their friends. You can learn so much about your kid’s life and their friends by being the driver.
- Be patient and be available for them when they’re in the mood to chat.
- Keep phones and electronics out of the bedroom. Tweens and teens need their sleep. The better they sleep, the happier everyone is.
- You serve your children best being their parent first and friend second.
- Keep your child physically active. Not only does it keep them fit and healthy, but is also a great stress-buster. If the activity is outside of school, it makes them develop another group of friends outside of school, which is also very beneficial.
- Every child is different. Be sensitive to each child’s needs and abilities and encourage them accordingly.
- Be familiar with the apps your tween has on their mobile devices. Teach them to use responsibly without sharing personal information.
- Give them a quiet, uncluttered area to do their homework (not in their bedroom).
- Never force them into an activity they don’t like just because everyone else is doing it.
- Be patient with your preteen. They are dealing with SO MANY emotions and hormones and it can be difficult for them to act as a normal, functioning human being most days. Try not to take the outbursts, eye rolling and mood swings personally.
- Make sure your kids have down time. Kids are often overscheduled between school and extracurricular activities.
- Teach your kids independent thought early on, and then be prepared to let them spread their wings in high school. Be involved: listen, and give advice when it’s asked for, but try not to intervene too much. High school goes by so quickly. They have only four years to learn how to approach a teacher and ask for help when needed, or discuss a bad mark; only four years to learn how to apply for a job, interview for a job, and keep a job; only four years to learn how to develop romantic relationships that are safe, and respectful; and only four years to be prepared to go into the wider world. Be a soft spot to fall, but as hard as it is, let them make their mistakes (within reason, of course) and learn from them. – Cynthia Hill
- Don’t spoil your tween with material things like the latest iPhone or the newest designer clothes. Ask yourself what exactly are you teaching your kids by always giving them what they want?
- Take time to tuck them into bed. This is often the time they’re in the mood to chat.
- Educate yourself about social media, and set clear rules and guidelines for how your kids may use it. Be prepared to keep learning and talking about it, as it’s almost impossible to keep kids away from social media once they reach a certain age and kids often don’t understand the potential risks involved.
- Plan fun days together, you may think they’re not interested, but chances are they are (secretly) enjoying spending time with you.
- When we don’t push the kids to talk, they actually volunteer more often to engage in the conversation, especially at the dinner table.
- Don’t succumb to parental peer pressure. Your tween may indeed be the only one of their friends without a cell phone or who’s not allowed to go to an event, but you are the best judge of what’s appropriate for your family.
- Teach your kids everything you can about money as soon as you can, and keep reinforcing important lessons about money management at every opportunity. Financial literacy is a skill every person needs, and the sooner they establish good financial habits the better.
- Establish expectations and guidelines, but give your kids some space to make mistakes – and a safe place to land when they inevitably do. As much as we want to protect our children, we have to give them some independence along the way to adulthood.
- Lead by example. The kids watch and learn how you handle various situations.
- Make opportunities for special 1:1 time with each of your kids as often as possible to create deeper connections with them and open up the door to important conversations.
- Be prepared to ride a roller coaster for the next few years, as you deal with your tween’s ever-changing moods, needs and emotions. Hang on and enjoy the ride!
We hope these bits of advice help you as you navigate through the tween years. Do you have any other parenting tips for parents of tweens? Please share!