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Great ways to stay connected with your tween

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The tween years can be a tough time not only for parents, but also for the tweens themselves. Although teens have an often undeserved reputation for being difficult, the teen years don't have to be a nightmare. Staying connected with your tween now can help you stay connected as they grow into teens and eventually become adults.

Your tween may not act like it, but they still crave your attention. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to overlook this basic need as our children grow. Your tween may not ask for hugs the way they did when they were younger, but there are other ways to satisfy their need for physical affection without resorting to an embarrassing hug in front of their friends.

Snugging on the couch and watching a movie or television show together is one option. Let your tween pick the show and then pay attention to why they like it. Of course, not every choice will be your favorite, but being interested in the things your tween is interested in is a great, no-pressure way to connect.

If your tween prefers being social and hanging out with friends, help them do that. It can be scary when our kids go off on their own, but it is a normal part of growing up. The effort of meeting your tween's friends should me more than just a way to check up on them. It is also a way to connect with your tween by supporting their decisions and being available when, and if, they need help navigating these new relationships.

Most tweens go through a hibernation process where they prefer to stay at home. They may choose to hang out with family members or stay in their rooms. If they need time to themselves, you can support that by bringing them snacks. A tween who wants to be alone may welcome a visitor in their own space, so hanging out with them where they are is also an option.

During this time, younger siblings can be both a blessing and a curse. Your tween may choose to hang out with their younger siblings one day and decide they want to be alone the next day. Similar to Anna in Frozen when she asks "Do you want to build a snowman?", your younger children will probably miss the attention of their older sibling. Look for activities that can include all ages. Although your tween may declare themselves too hold for a park, don't give up. Hiking, going to the movies, or taking a road trip will appeal to different ages and they can each enjoy the adventure on their own level.

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