The tween years, which refers to children aged 7 to 12, are also known as the “between” years. This is the period your offspring will be experiencing many emotional milestones. Not only will they start to experience peer pressure and stress from school, they will also start to assert their independence and self-identity.
No doubt, your child is growing even faster than before…. It’s during this transition period that some kids morph from sweetheart to a rebellious monster, such that parents ask themselves, “What is happening to my child all of a sudden?”
Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, explains that while your child used to rely on you to make their decisions, they will eventually start to develop a strong sense of self. When they have their own ideas, they will want make their own decisions.
Conflict will erupt if parent and child are not on the same page when this happens. Moreover, in this digital age, kids who have their own smartphones are susceptible to a plethora of external influences that were not present during your childhood.
Social media is a prime example, especially since impressionable kids are enticed to follow the latest trends. During this stage in their lives, the less mature tweens who don’t have any concept of budgeting might also demand certain material goods. And those with this dangerous sense of entitlement cannot understand why their parents refuse to indulge them.
While your child used to rely on you to make their decisions, they will eventually start to develop a strong sense of self.
So, get set for issues you can expect to deal with during this stage:
1. “I want freedom!”
Thanks to modern technology like mobile phones and the Internet, kids are able to communicate with their peers even faster than before. Although social media gives them a platform to stay in touch with their friends and on top of current trends, it can also be a double-edged sword. Your kid will compare himself to his peers and want to follow what’s trending. When they are denied the chance to do so, they may start to rebel.
What you should do: Stay connected to them. The biggest regret parents usually have is not spending more time with their children. As it’s important for them to know what their tweens are up to, spending time with them lets you talk them through any disappointments. You’ll also be able to advise them when they experience setbacks. This way, your tween is more inclined to approach you when problems arise.
2. “I hate you!”
It can shock and hurt when your tween starts talking back or yelling at you. And since they assert themselves more when they enter adolescence, shouting will no longer work and can even cause them to pull away further from you. They might also get closer to their friends, sharing their thoughts and feelings with them, but shutting you out.
What you should do: Start fostering respect and communication when they are young, so that you build a strong foundation of common understanding. You should also be flexible and adapt to different ways to communicate with your child. Moreover, you should let your kid make their own choices ― and advise them rather than making decisions for them. A structure of teamwork gives your child a sense of control. “Giving direct instructions is merely a display of power and rejection of the other party,” says Koh.
3. “I don’t want to go to school”
It’s a big leap to transition from kindergarten to Primary school, and even between different levels in Primary school, so they may face challenges adjusting. If your little one suddenly is unwilling to go to school, he might be experiencing peer pressure, bullying and stress, which they would likely keep to themselves.
What you should do: Help him adjust to school. Always keep an eye out for your mini-me and start preparing them way before school actually starts. Teach them what is right and wrong, and how to handle situations they might encounter in school.
When you eat together as a family, it creates a chance for you to talk and spend quality time with each other.
4. “I don’t want to do this”
As you get older, you are more risk-averse and might not be as open to trying new things as you were when you were younger. Your kiddo might be afraid of trying new things now because they lack confidence or fear failure.
What you should do: Help your child to build a healthy sense of self-esteem as he’ll then know himself better rather than compare themselves to others. Koh notes that with more knowledge, they will also be able to make better decisions.
5. “Leave me alone”
Most parents these days have full-time jobs, and don’t have much time to spend with their child. As a result, junior gets used to being left alone at home, which, over time, can see them preferring to hang out with his friends, instead of spending time with their parents.
What you should do: Make an effort to have meals as a family. When you eat together, it creates a chance for you to talk and spend quality time with each other. Family meals can be a weekly affair and everyone should be involved in either the preparation or cleanup, as this will help your family to build connections with each other.
Tune in to your child! Learn from parenting expert Dr Michele Borba at the Singapore Parenting Congress on 18 and 19 November 2017. Besides sharing tips on how to raise happy and successful children, she will offer strategies on parenting your child in a digital world. Find out more now!
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