It’s been ten years since I’ve had a tween. My first two tweens were boys. I think the greatest challenge might have been keeping them in pants that were long enough and shoes that still fit.
Helloooo….10 year old little girl! Wow. The mood swings, the crying, the drama. It is not for the faint of heart. What happened to my kind, caring, cuddly little girl? She does show up every now and then but you can’t be certain when those times will be. The hormonal version shows up suddenly and without warning. She might jump into a board game, hop into the backseat, or reveal herself in the middle of a math problem. There are a few things that calm her a bit. Sometimes food settles her. A hot bath can help. Usually it’s only sleep that makes her flee.
She can certainly cause turmoil in what was a normal day. She blows in like a hurricane and exits behind a locked door. To everyone’s relief, “she” usually doesn’t hang around for an entire day and the loving, kind version of her returns.
Sometimes it is a challenge to accept this phase for what it is. A phase. This, too, shall pass.
But what to do? Are these years simply to be survived? Should we just buckle up and hang on, hoping that this is similar to a roller coaster ride that we will soon step away from, still intact?
Working with middle school students for so many years as a teacher has given me a little bit of insight. Strangely enough, I’ve had to remember how I dealt with other people’s tumultuous children in order to deal with my own.
It is good to remember these things (preaching to me here):
- As much as it upsets the household for out of control tween girl to enter the scene, it upsets that little growing girl more. Having mood swings and dealing with such confusing thoughts and emotions is a tough job. It’s tiring for everyone involved.
- It is a confusing time. Yesterday she was playing with Barbie dolls and today she’s noticing underarm hair. She’s in this body that’s changing and it’s hard to know exactly where all of those things fit into “who” she is.
- Remind her of her worth. We haven’t reached the acne and oily skin phase yet but I know that it’s coming. My husband has done a great job of always reminding the kids that their most beautiful feature is their heart. That might be tough for her to remember when she glances in the mirror but plant those seeds anyway. Daily.
- Cheer her on. Sometimes you can’t cheer her up. You just can’t. If I’ve learned one thing in parenting (or in any other relationship), it is that you can’t make other people happy. Encourage her through the rough patches and tell her that soon enough, she’ll come out on the other side of this stronger and more capable.
- Teach her. In my opinion, one of the most uncertain times of a girl’s life is when she just doesn’t know what or how to do something. It is hard to be the person who “just doesn’t know.” Don’t let her find out about how her body will change during PE or gym class. Spend some time talking with her about it. Hopefully, she fully trusts you to have her best interest at heart. If you don’t have that bond already, it is not too late. Start talking. If she wants to know how to do something like shave her legs, don’t let her be the bandaid wearing girl who butchered her knees. Show her. Not in a big deal, weirded out kind of way but in a simple, lighthearted way. This helps it not to feel so awkward.
I know that I could go on with this list. There is so much that I still don’t know and that I’m learning. Mostly learning by doing it wrong and then trying to fix it. 🙂
As always, I’m a work in progress.
What about you? How are you making these transition years