The "tween" years, which fall between the ages of 8 and 12, can often be challenging for children and parents alike. The Peetes talk with child psychologist Dr. Linda Sonna, author of The Everything Tween Book: A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Turbulent Preteen Years
, who shares some advice to help parents raise great tweens.
- Motivate without nagging. Tweens are focused on learning the rules of life—they're figuring out where they stand and what they have to do, Dr. Sonna says. To help them accomplish what's expected of them, give them structure, she says. For example, set up a designated homework time every day. If they don't have homework, they should spend that time reading, working ahead or reviewing their coursework, she says.
- Help them access their emotions. Dr. Sonna says parents can help their tweens get in touch with their feelings. Take a look at the individual child and her needs—if a child is particularly sensitive, tone down your discipline, she says. Also, one parent often leans toward the role of the nurturer while the other often acts as the disciplinarian. Explain your communication style to your child, ask them questions such as, "How did you feel when I said that?" Let them know you both care regardless of your particular communication style, she says.
- Talk openly about their maturation. As a tween develops, they often feel emotions ranging from apprehension to embarrassment, Dr. Sonna says. "Conflicts about growing up are typical at this age," she says. A father's attitude toward his daughter's maturation tends to have a tremendous impact on them, she says, so it's important to talk. Tell them it's tough, but that you'll love them as they grow up and look forward to everything the future holds. If you don't communicate, there's a chance that your child may reflect some of your discomfort, she says.