What's A Tween?
So, what is a Tween? Tween is short for Tweenager and describes someone usually between the age of 8 and 12. It came from (be)tween + (teen)ager.
This can be a tricky stage for kids as they are at that in between stage where they are finding their own identities. It will be a time when they’re looking for more independence, start worrying about their appearance and you need to be able to balance this with family life and keeping them safe.
Tweens will start to become more influenced by their peers and you’ll probably find that they want to spend more time with their friends than they do with their family.
When Should they have a mobile phone?
One of the inevitable questions that will come up as they approach the tween years is the question of when they can have a mobile phone. G decided that 10 would be the age that the Boys could have their own mobile phones which seems to be a sensible age.
Allowing them to have some independence whilst keeping them safe is a tricky one to balance out and it will be different for all kids as they mature differently and to a certain extent you’ll have to judge how much freedom to give them.
Grandson no 1 was allowed out to play in the local park with his friends from the age of 10, he’s now just turned 11. The park is only 5 minutes away and he has a large group of friends that live locally, they also play in the same football team. Allowing him to play out on his own for a few hours a week with friends allows him to gain some of that much craved independence.
When GS 1 goes out to play he takes his phone with him and the advantage of modern technology is that you can track the kids if you need to. He’s always given a time that he has to be back home and to be fair he’s always back within 5 minutes of the agreed time.
GS 2 is now 9 so he’s also started to want a bit more independence, but he’s not allowed a mobile phone until he’s 10 so when he asks for one for the 100th time and is told that he must wait until he’s 10 like GS 1 the response is usually “that’s not fair”. A phrase that seems to be muttered quite a lot by Tweens!
The Little Changes
It’s the little things you notice with Tweens, they’ll stop holding your hand when you’re out walking, you won’t get a kiss goodbye if they’re friends are around, and they tend to be a bit reluctant to go out on family days out.
They are far more likely to start worrying about their appearance, what their hair looks like, what trainers they’ve got. Try and remember what it was like when you were growing up. Don’t criticise their appearance, be constructive. It’s so important to build their self esteem.
When you’re planning days out and holidays it’s always worth trying to make sure there’s something for everyone. We’re lucky that the boys and G love football so we know everyone’s happy to go for a day out to a football game. GS no 1 now loves surfing so when we’re planning a family holiday we make sure that while the other two go off horse riding he goes off for a surf lesson.
Communication is Key
However, don’t despair. It may be a little tricky and you may need to find what works for you, but this can also be a great time to be a parent / grandparent as they’re growing up and starting to have opinions of their own and becoming their own person.
I’m certainly no expert but these are some of my tips for parenting / grandparenting Tweens:
1. Respect their wishes – You may desperately want to share pictures of them on Social Media but if they don’t want you to then don’t. Remember their friends will have social media accounts and are likely to see what you post. Just ask first.
2. Talk to them – Maybe harder said than done sometimes when all you get is a grumpy yes or no when you ask them a question. But communication is one of the most important things, if they talk to you about the small things then they’re more likely talk to you about the bigger things. Try using Open Questions so you don’t get a yes or No answer.
3. Listen to them – Make time to really listen to them. I know it’s difficult as there’s always so much going on but if you find 15 minutes to sit down one to one, giving them your full attention without distractions.
4. Find out what they’re interested in – It’s so much easier having a conversation with them if it’s about something they’re interested in.
5. Have clear boundaries and rules – all kids need to know what the boundaries and rules are. However, don’t be afraid to negotiate with them. Some rules may be golden, and you’ll need to explain why but others may be up for negotiation.
It's good to talk
A great way to spend time together and have conversations is to make sure you sit down round the table for a family dinner at least once a week. It’s a great way to find time to talk. We always sit down for a family Sunday dinner. It’s not always perfect there’s usually plenty of “eat your vegetables” to the littlest GS, “stop annoying him” to the bigger ones but generally it’s a nice way to spend a couple of hours with the whole family
If you’re stuck for ideas on how to get the kids engaged in a conversation here’s a few examples of Open Question:
1. What food could you eat every day and never get tired of?
2. Tell me about the best teacher you ever had?
3. If you were going to have a weird, unusual pet, what would it be?
4. Is there anybody in history that you have read about that you would like to be?
5. What is the most amazing thing about you
6. If a genie would give you only one wish, which would you pick, and why?
7. Who’s your favourite football player, and why?
8. What was your favourite holiday, where would you like to go next?
9. What is the most enjoyable thing our family has done together this year?
10. Have you ever had a dream that really scared you? What was it about?
11. What’s the best thing about mum/dad/grandam/grandad/your brother?
12. What’s the worst thing about mum/dad/grandam/grandad/your brother?
13. If you could trade lives with somebody you know, who would it be?
14. What subject would you get rid of from the school day?
15. Which season do you enjoy most?
16. What three words would your friends use to describe you?
17. What three words would you use to describe yourself?
18. Name three things that you cannot live without.
19. If you could grow up to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?
20. If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make? Why?
Enjoy this time with them and remember they’re still just kids. Build their confidence and self esteem, and keep them engaged. This age can be so much fun, watch them grow because soon you’ll be at the next stage – Teenagers