Exploring Parenting Challenges by Age: Preteens

Are you the parent of a preteen (9 to 13 years of age)? If so, you’ve probably noticed many of their behaviors starting to shift over the past few months or years. Here are a few of the challenges that parents commonly face when their children are in their “tween” years:

  • Friends vs. family – Younger children tend to gravitate toward their families, but once they enter the preteen years, many of them become more interested in hanging out with their friends. Don’t be offended by this—it’s actually healthy, since it encourages independence, improves their life skills, and expands their social network. Of course, you can still set aside family time, too.
  • A lack of self-confidence – Preteens often place a great deal of importance on what others think of them, and while you may not be able to control what they’re hearing at school or when they’re spending time with friends, you can take steps to build their self-esteem at home. Pay attention to not only what you say about them, but also how you speak about yourself and others. Try to project confidence in your own abilities, even if you’re feeling nervous on the inside, and be sure not to make critical comments about people’s appearance.
  • Dwindling communication – Preteens are often reluctant to share tidbits about their lives, and if you push too hard, they’ll probably withdraw even more. Rather than asking direct questions about what happened at school or practice, try sitting down with them and watching a television show they enjoy. As you both relax, they may become more likely to volunteer information, and the show might also present the opportunity to discuss issues like bullying and eating disorders.

Speak to a Therapist About Effective Parenting

If you have a preteen and you need help managing your child’s behavior, contact us today. We’ll gladly schedule a therapy session at a date and time that’s convenient for you so that we can discuss the challenges you’re experiencing and supply you with customized parenting tips.