I’m raising tweens, and I have finally found my parenting niche.
Some parents say they love the cuddliness of babies and toddlers. For others, they love the sweetness of the early elementary school age the most. But for me, I love parenting tweens the best. It’s also my favorite age group to treat at my psychology clinic.
Although some parents loathe this stage, here are eight reasons why I love this age the best:
1. Tweens are keen to try new things.
Tweens are excited about life. They love to learn and see themselves as capable. They’re physically bigger and stronger. They can tackle things like hiking, rock climbing and zip lining with their large, more able bodies. As a parent of tweens, life opens up as you can explore these activities together. You are also no longer hemmed in by the need for structured bedtime routines. The occasional late night does not tend to cause havoc in your home.
2. Tweens can connect thoughts and feelings.
When kids can link their feelings and thoughts together, this can be used to get through situations in a more positive way. They tend to be less reactive to fears and have fewer tantrums. After all, now they can use their cognitive skills instead of becoming overwhelmed. Parents can use logic to help their child get through problems that previously would have caused a meltdown. Deals and negotiations can make life with your child easier for the most part. (But a word of caution, this does depend on the deal you strike.)
3. Tweens are conversationalists.
Kids at this age have an exploding vocabulary and bring new words into your home like “glitching.” Tweens can recall events and retell stories for entertainment value. That means, if you are like me, you occasionally get caught doing something incorrectly. Like wrongly practicing an EpiPen maneuver in front of the immunologist after a fairly comprehensive demonstration. You can be sure the whole family will hear about this epic parent-fail. According to research, the capacity of the brain to recall strengthens until the age of 14. So this skill can continue to improve (lucky us, parents!)
4. Tweens settle into routines.
Mornings and evenings are easier, although you may have trouble getting some of them out of bed. On the flip side, you are less likely to have to pair matching socks just before you head out to school. Some children in this age group may still require prompting, especially if it’s an activity they don’t like or value. “Have you brushed your teeth?” or “You need to take a shower” is something I can’t believe I have to repeat every day and night. But this doesn’t take away from how great it is that most basic care tasks are taken over by your child.
5. Tweens have basic skills of independence.
There are increased feelings of competence, and kids at this age often enjoy spending time away from their parents. The need to accompany them to birthday parties is definitely over. And there is no longer a child hanging onto your leg in a desperate protest of separation.
6. Tweens still like hugs.
While most teens are fully immersed in friendships as their primary relationship, tweens still want to be close to their parents. Most tweens will still cuddle and hold your hand from time to time. And if you are really lucky, your tween still enjoys doing things as a family and is not yet embarrassed to be seen in public with you.
7. Tweens still think you know everything.
Unlike teens, tweens don’t feel the need to remind you of your age or how out of touch you are. When I meet with teens in sessions, it is not unusual for them to ask whether I know what Instagram or snapchat is. It’s a sure sign that they believe I am ancient and out of touch with the real world. Tweens are more likely to assume I still know everything and understand their life, even though I still use google to answer their constant, complex questions.
8. Tweens can entertain themselves.
Tweens do not need constant parent company for entertainment. They still like to play but prefer to do that with friends and siblings over parents. They can spend hours occupied with books, games, and screens or practicing some skill or sport they are attempting to master. More uninterrupted time for parents is the bonus of this developmental stage in which achievement and mastery are a driving force.
I love parenting tweens more than I’ve enjoyed the other stages. I’ll try to find a way to love the teen stage too. But if I find it difficult, I will always remember that being a parent means continuously moving forward. You have to love the kid you have whatever the stage they are in for that moment.