There are currently 20 million tweens in the U.S. www.wikipedia.org Wikipedia defines tween as a word describing a person between the ages of 10-12 years old, and in grades 5-7 or 4-8. They are considered pre-adolescents who are in-between stages of development, and “ the stage ends with the onset of puberty, though this may vary…Tween is a blend of the words teen and between. Tweens are ‘in-between’ being a child and a teen…Although they may appear like teens, abstract thought is almost nonexistent.” They tend to be conformist, especially with the media.
It is a time of the most rapid, dramatic change in development since birth. www.families.com defines tweens as those years between 8 and 13, when a child is “not yet a teen but no longer just a little kid…a tumultuous time for kids as they transition from childhood to the teen years.” This stage of life is filled with extreme emotions, expectations, and responsibilities.
Tweens not only begin to develop social needs, but they also develop hopes for the future. Their emotional and physical changes are hand in hand. Their own opinions are influenced by parents, peers, and the media, and they may define themselves through their interests and activities, such as sports, music, computers, and clubs. Self-esteem, however, at this point, is still fragile. Peer pressures are a great influence on their lives.
Key characteristics of tweens today
- Highly participative – enjoy fun, interactive things.
- Highly connected – internet, cell phones – and see electronic devices as extentions of themselves
- Achievement oriented = Stress from grades, pleasing parents, friends, popularity, looks.
- Will fight for social time
- Involved in social networking for tweens through internet.
- Use internet for self expression and for escape from parents and pressures. It is also noted that these sites have strong parental controls and emphasis on “no bullying” policies.
- Different levels of maturity, from childlike play to “adult” activities like makeup or even dating.
www.families.com lists several other characteristics of tweens:
- They are physically affectionate with parents only on their own terms.
- They will question parents’ ideas and values as compared to their peers.
- They may begin to try and negotiate and stand on own.
- They see things as black or white and may be superstitious.
- They are quieter, sleep more and spend more time alone.
- They can have extreme mood swings.
www.gocitykids.parentsconnect.com has many suggestions for parent resources in Los Angeles, whether it is counseling, activities, or clubs. There are also many volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles, including Big Sunday. (www.bigsunday.com).
The tween years often predict how a child will do emotionally and in school in their teens. Parents need to work on having trusting relationships with their tweens. Remember that they are not yet teens, though, and still need guidance and supervision and responsibilities. Make room for your child’s new voice, help them to work through their moods in a healthy way, and allow them to find themselves.