Teenage children, who are no longer little but not yet teenagers, are changing rapidly.

So-called because it is among the two most recognized developmental stages of young children and teenagers, the interpolation period is between eight and 12 years old, and many parents could use some help getting through it.

Parenting author Tanith Carey knows all too well what it's like to deal with the tween years – she's been through it with her two daughters and now she's written the book What's My Tween Thinking? about this with psychologist Dr. Angharad Rudkin.

“It is a phase in which hormones begin to take effect, children are forming their first serious friendships – and having their first major consequences – and they begin to want their own screens, which are a gateway to an adult world to which they they’re not ready yet,” notes Carey.

“However, although parents mentally prepare themselves for the terrible twos and the tumultuous teenage years, they are often unprepared for the vitally important period in between.

“The good news is that these years won't be so confusing when you know the developmental reasons behind your teen's changing behavior and see the world through their eyes.”

Here, Carey outlines some of the common challenges parents may face with their tweens and how to deal with them…

'I'm not holding your hand, Mom'

Your teenager takes his hand away from yours for the first time on a walk to the shops.

What is your teenager thinking

'I'm testing what it's like to be more independent. Now my peers are more important in my life, I'm desperate to fit in. Even when my friends aren't around, I still imagine what they would say if they saw me holding my mother's hand and how childish they would call me.'

What might you be thinking?

You may feel sad because the child who used to never get tired of you is entering a phase where he doesn't seem to need you as much anymore.

How could you respond

“Don’t take it personally,” Carey advises. “This has more to do with your child's development and the emerging need to find their own tribe. In fact, pulling away is a positive sign that they trust you to continue to love them anyway.”

She warns that while pre-teens may not want to hold their hand as much in public, they may still need physical connection at home, so parents should offer different options, such as stroking their back to reassure them or asking if they would like to. a hug.

'I AM doing my homework'

Your child is taking a long time to start homework.

What is your teenager thinking

'My class feels like a long time ago and my mind has gone blank. Plus, at home there are so many things I'd rather be doing and without a teacher and my peers around me to keep me focused, it's hard to concentrate.'

What might you be thinking?

After a long day, you probably just want your child to do their homework so you can get on with it for the rest of the night. If they say they don't know where to start or seem to be avoiding it out of fear of making a mistake, you may be panicking or tempted to do it for them.

How could you respond

Carey suggests that initially parents should just take a deep breath. “Being frustrated with them will make them more anxious and it will be harder for them to access the logical thinking parts of their brain that they need right now,” she says, advising that if they are finding it difficult to move on, parents should help them to name how they feel. “Once they know you've heard them, they're more likely to start, she explains.

She points out that when a task is daunting, the hardest part is getting started. “So make it seem more manageable by suggesting they try it for five minutes – the likelihood is they’ll stick with it.”

If homework is turning into a nightly conflict and your teen is having trouble getting it done within the teacher's assigned time frame, mention it to the school, Carey advises. “It’s best to quickly identify any learning challenges,” she says.

'Why can't I join TikTok when all my friends are on it?'

Your child is angry because you don't allow him to sign up for TikTok because he isn't 13 yet.

What is your teenager thinking

“Okay, so it's not all my friends, just a few. But I'll tell my parents it's everyone so they'll worry about whether I'll be left out. They keep saying social media is dangerous, but I would never be so foolish as to fall in love with strange adults, because I would know. And anyway, Dad lets me play adult video games because he likes it too. So what's the difference?

What might you be thinking?

You are likely worried that your teenager is too naive to deal with what can happen online, afraid of what they might see, and worried about the messages you are giving them by allowing them to lie about their age.

How could you respond

Carey suggests that parents explain to teens that their brains are still developing and that social media is designed to be overstimulating. “Tell them that it's too early for them to be distracted from the real-world things they love, like playing, being outdoors, and arts and crafts, which are important for them to feel good.

“As a compromise, consider letting them try a platform, like a closed group of friends on WhatsApp, for a limited time on a shared family device, but always in the common areas of your home, and never in their bedrooms,” he emphasizes. .

What is my teenager thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents by Tanith Carey and Dr Angharad Rudkin will be published by DK books on 15 February, priced £16.99

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