### Effective Strategies for Managing Common Challenges When Parenting Tweens

No longer small, yet not quite teenagers, children in the tween phase experience rapid changes.

Referred to as the “tween” stage because it bridges the gap between early childhood and adolescence, this period typically spans from eight to 12 years old. Many parents find this developmental stage challenging and seek guidance to navigate through it.

Tanith Carey, an author specializing in parenting, has firsthand experience dealing with tweens as she has raised two daughters who have gone through this phase. Together with psychologist Dr. Angharad Rudkin, she co-authored the book “What’s My Tween Thinking?” shedding light on this crucial stage.

During this phase, hormonal changes kick in, children establish significant friendships (along with occasional conflicts), and develop an interest in personal screens that grant access to an adult world they are not entirely prepared for, notes Carey.

While parents brace themselves for the terrible twos and the turbulent teenage years, they often overlook the vital in-between period.

Understanding the reasons behind your tween’s behavioral shifts and seeing the world from their perspective can demystify these years, making them less perplexing.

Carey highlights some common challenges parents may encounter with their tweens and offers strategies to address them.

‘I’m not holding your hand, mom’

As your tween pulls their hand away during a walk to the shops for the first time, here’s what might be going through their mind:

Tween’s Perspective:
“I’m testing my independence. Peer acceptance is crucial now, and I’m eager to fit in. Even in the absence of my friends, I imagine their judgment if they see me holding my mom’s hand, fearing they might consider me childish.”

Parent’s Response:
Carey advises parents not to take it personally. This behavior signifies their evolving need to find their social circle. While they may resist public displays of affection, they might still seek physical closeness at home. Offer alternative gestures like back rubs or hugs for reassurance.

‘I AM doing my homework’

When your child procrastinates starting their homework, consider the following perspectives:

Tween’s Perspective:
“After a long day, recalling the lesson feels distant, and distractions abound at home. Without peers and teachers around, focusing becomes challenging.”

Parent’s Response:
Instead of getting frustrated, Carey recommends remaining calm. Encourage your child to articulate their feelings, which can help them overcome the initial hurdle. Breaking down tasks into smaller segments can make them more manageable. If homework struggles persist, involving the school to address potential learning obstacles is advisable.

‘Why can’t I go on TikTok when all my friends are on it?’

When your child protests about not being allowed on social media platforms like TikTok due to age restrictions, consider the following perspectives:

Tween’s Perspective:
“I know not all my friends are on TikTok, but I’ll exaggerate to make my parents worry about exclusion. I believe I can handle online risks, especially since I play mature video games with Dad’s approval.”

Parent’s Response:
Explain to your tween that their brain is still developing, and social media can be overwhelming. Encourage engagement in real-world activities they enjoy. Consider allowing limited access to a specific platform under supervision, emphasizing the importance of safety and moderation.

By understanding your tween’s evolving needs and challenges, you can navigate this phase with empathy and effective communication.