Mom To Mom On Dealing With Tweens: How To Navigate This New Relationship

It’s no surprise to anyone that your kids’ tween years can be somewhat of an interesting age to navigate. There are days when you are the best of friends, and then, in a matter of seconds, their mood can switch on you without notice. It can leave you feeling personally attacked, frustrated, and on the verge of giving up completely. They seem to want more of their own space and less of our time. 

This transition seems to happen earlier than we are all ready for as parents and can often lead to us scratching our heads, wondering what happened to our sweet little angel. It seems like just yesterday, they were asking for hugs and wanting to cuddle, and now they don’t want anything to do with us. Try not to fret. Although there is no answer to avoid the tween angst altogether, there are a few helpful tips and tricks you can apply to ease the frustration on both ends. 

Understand That They’re Not Your Little Boy Or Girl Anymore 

As hard as it might be to admit, they are not the little child you can so easily picture in your mind anymore. They’ve grown into someone with a more mature thought system, worries that are more complex, and they’re more aware of the negatives in the world.

If you simply meet them at their level and address them during conflict and conversation with a more mature approach, they will feel respected and confident in their own skin. Try turning your conversation to topics that are more on their level and appealing to them and they’ll understand you see them in a more grown-up view. 

Don’t take it personally 

This one is easier said than done, but if you get into an argument or they pull away, try not to take it personally. Going from being a child to a teenager can be one of the most uncomfortable phases in life, and there could be multiple reasons they are pulling away at the moment. It could have absolutely nothing to do with you.

Kids this age value their independence and are trying to establish boundaries. Be willing to listen, but try not to poke or pry. Your child could be going through a major fight with a friend and are not looking for someone to take sides or give opinions. Simply stating that you are here if they would like to talk and showing that you care will go a very long way in maintaining your bond. 

Help Keep Them On Task

Tweens are learning how to balance school life with social life issues and everything in between. They are bound to forget about soccer practice, a school test coming up, and more. Reminding them of their responsibilities and tasks will teach them the life skill of balancing the day-to-day obligations that we deal with in our adult world.

Try not to remind them too much, as they will soon rely on you for every single reminder. It may help your tween to keep a visible calendar in their room or near their desk at home so they can balance their life on their own and see what is coming up in the week. 

Show An Interest In Their Interests 

Get to know their closest friends, their hobbies and favorite shows and songs. The more you get to know what they like, the more organic a conversation you can have. When you take the time to get to know your child on a deeper level, they also feel like they have an important role in your life.

If you take a few minutes on the way home from school or sport practice to ask a few questions about things they enjoy and people they have connected with, you will quickly see how the conversation can last much longer than simply scraping the surface with basic questions. Beyond that, you are also teaching your tween how to carry on a more in-depth conversation, giving their social skills a new level of maturity. 

Allow Your Tween To Share A Bigger Family Role

Your tween is not a toddler anymore, so their responsibilities should not reflect one of a toddler. This is your chance to take a load off of your task list, and teach them some basic domestic life skills. Have them help with harder or more complex chores. Loosen the leash, just a little bit, to allow them to experience a bit of independence and build confidence in themselves.

While you’re getting a little more help, they’ll appreciate the fact you no longer see them as small children, and that will strengthen your bond as well. With great responsibility should come great reward. If you notice that your tween is taking on a more mature role, be sure to reward them accordingly. For example, if they have been helping out without complaint and taking on more than usual, reward them with some allowance money they can use towards something they want, or allow them to do something fun with their friends. They’ll surely appreciate the gesture. 

Be Firm, But Not Overpowering 

Welcome to the season of the power struggle. This will continue for the next 5-10 years as they try to establish their role in the household. Use an urgent presence when necessary, but try not to overdo it. It’s like two bulls butting heads – no one wins. Be sure to explain your side of the situation in a calm and assertive manner. Escalating the tone of the conversation to an angry one will only result in building a wall between the two of you. Stay as neutral as possible. 

At the end of the day, this stage of life is hard, both for parent and child. Try to understand their angst. You can use your own experiences, when the time calls for it. Sometimes knowing we’re not alone in our feelings helps as a tween. Be gentle in knowing their experience is completely different than yours, even if the situation is almost identical. A little empathy can go a long way, but don’t make it about you. Stay calm and know the road to respect works both ways. In order to receive, one must give. Know they love you and are trying to navigate through this transition with no previous experience. They need you, so be patient.


Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with tweens? We’d love to hear them below!

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