The dreaded tween years! These are the two years that I found that many issues can start and if you don’t get a handle on them, beware the teen years. Children at this age:
- Start to form tighter peer relationships. It is important to them to have friends (especially of the same sex). Make sure that you know who your childrens friends are at this age. If you wait too long to find out who is important in their lives, it will be harder to steer them in the right direction later.
- Experience much more peer pressure. As children enter middle school, peer pressure becomes more pronounced and harder to ????.
- Want to be more independent. They may complain about having to attend family functions and prefer to hang out with friends. Try to find a happy medium. Let the child know early that they are still part of the family. Gear some family activities around interests of the child and every once in a while encourage her to invite friends.
- Body image becomes very important. As puberty starts, children become more aware of their bodies. This is the age where eating disorders can occur. Teach your child to eat healthy and involve them in some sort of physical exercise.
To help your child at this stage:
- Be involved in school activities. Meet your child’s teacher and attend school events.
- Talk to him about school, friends and other interests, but don’t grill him. You may only get short one syllable answers, but at least he knows you care.
- Discuss what is right and wrong. Tweens may find a lot of gray areas. I have also pointed out to my children what I believe is inappropriate behavior and dress. Now they point those things out to me.
- Discipline is important! Make sure your child knows the rules and the consequences.
- Money! Set up a plan to help your child manage money. My favorite plan is Money Smart Kids. This program teaches children to save their money, contribute to society by giving to charity and even have money to spend on themselves.
- Be vigilant about homework. Set up a place for your child to complete her homework each day. Help them study for tests if needed. They need to make sure that they start good study habit now.
Children that are eleven and twelve should be able to:
- Shop for their own clothing (set up a budget for them)
- Learn how to make appointments (such as the dentist)
- Use the internet safely
- Learn first aid
- Plan and help make meals
- Help with a garden
- Mow the lawn and use weed trimmer
- Iron their own clothes
- Use a pay phone to place a call (teach them how to make a collect call). You never know when a cell phone will not be available and there is an emergency.
- Clean inside and outside windows
- Learn a craft or hobby