Between the ages of about 8-12 years, kids enter a period of change before becoming a teenager. They are neither a child nor an adolescent; they are in a wonderful in-between stage where they have all the optimism and idealism of childhood mixed with the entrepreneurial spirit and yearning for responsibility that early adulthood brings. During this stage, kids are affectionately known as “tweens.”
Tweens are in a unique period of personal, emotional and physical growth. For example, they typically start to be interested in:
- Volunteerism – they want to help and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty
- Paid work or chores – they are beginning to understand the give and take of the labor market
- More responsibility – they are keen to earn your trust
- Childcare/babysitting – caring for younger siblings or relatives
- Fashion and Appearance – picking out their own outfits and customizing their individual look
Of course, each phase of childhood has its challenges and benefits, but the tween stage is unique in many ways. It presents new opportunities for how you and your tween interact, for trying new things together, or even for creating unique and memorable small rituals – a silly facial expression, Friday night walks, a handshake, a phrase, a funny story or family memory, or a special vacation. Spending dedicated time with your tweens can create memories and connections that serve you well heading into the teen years.
So what makes tweens so special?
- Tweens are changing constantly and are not afraid to change their minds. This sort of flexibility can and should be valued.
- Tweens can be idealists. They are at the perfect age to notice injustice in the world and feel the need to right wrongs and improve our world.
- They can and will do great things!
- Tweens are becoming independent. They can embrace the responsibility of chores and jobs.
- Tweens are empathetic and caring. They are often involved in causes benefiting and promoting animal welfare or social change.
- Today’s tweens are growing up in a nontraditional workforce so they see business prospects everywhere and are natural entrepreneurs. They can no longer rely on a job for life as their parents and grandparents may have done, and therefore may begin to see and create opportunities to build success on their own terms.
- Older tweens/teens are tech and social media experts. They know how to utilize online platforms to spread messages of protest, positivity and change and often outperform adults in using the online world to make money.
- They are social and still like to spend time with their parents and have fun!
- Tweens are the leaders of tomorrow. They will shape our world, fix mistakes previous generations created, develop policies, cure diseases, invent new products and technologies, and forge brave paths through the 21st century; they are indeed our beautiful, bright future.
The tween years give parents a sneak peek into the kind of person their child will grow up to be. So, next time you find yourself at odds with your tween (this is real life, after all), remember that tweens make excellent conversationalists, are growing and learning constantly, and have enthusiasm and a sense of “bon viveur” that can light up the room when we make space for it. During this brief and transitory time, simply enjoy them!
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