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Parenting tips: Avoiding troubling tween trends and showing your adolescent love

We are continuing our series of articles featuring the experts at ESCAPE Family Resource Center about parenting and showing our children love. The Houston Family Examiner recently had the opportunity to discuss family relationships and the importance of parents showing children love with ESCAPE Family Resource Center Chief Programs Officer Nicole Huff. Don't just wait for Valentine's Day to put a whole lot of love in your child's heart. Today's talk is about tweens ages 9-12 years old.

ESCAPE Chief Programs Officer Nicole Huff talks about tweens. She advises that the transition period before adolescence is filled with change and opportunity. Pre-teens learn where they belong, how they are doing and a sense of their own value first from their relationships with their parents. Making this a positive foundation will help them successfully navigate the world of their peers.

Recommendations include:

1) Spend time holding your pre-teen
2) Kiss and caress your pre-teen

Now is when it's going to get hard to show your tween you care. That kiss goodnight or as they leave for school may get you a turned head but it's important to continue to show them love appropriately.

3) Say, “I Love You” to your pre-teen
4) Compliment your pre-teen for his/her behavior or completing a task
5) Hug your pre-teen for no special reason

Remember now is when they are going to start being shy about being seen with mom and or dad, so try to keep the hugs for when they won't be embarrassed by it. They may even be happier about receiving it.

6) Express to your pre-teens what you love about them (e.g. “I feel so proud of you when I see you put all the dirty clothes in the laundry. You are such a responsible pre-teenl!)
7) Provide your pre-teen with opportunities to assist in daily chores and tasks such as meal preparations, cleaning, and grocery shopping

Consider a chore chart so everyone knows what is expected of them.
8) Schedule one-on-one time with your pre-teen (without cell phones, TV, or other distractions)

Oh so hard to do, but one of the best ways to lead is by example. Put the phone away, turn it off yourself. Don't leave it on vibrate. There's nothing that is going on that can't wait until you spend time with your children.

9) While driving your pre-teen to and from school, turn off the radio and talk to them freely without lecturing. Be willing to drive your pre-teen around-the car provides a great place to talk!

You might be amazed! Listening to the kids talk in the backseat between each other or with their friends can yield a wealthy of information about topics you may need to help your children explore or advice to give.

Related content: Getting your tween and teen to talk – to you

10) Surprise your pre-teen by taking them out to a favorite place (i.e. park or favorite place to eat)
11) Express your love in writing; write them a special note and place it in their room or lunch box
12) Prepare their favorite meals and snacks
13) Provide them with encouraging words when they feel sad, scared, frustrated, or angry
14) Try to share at least one meal together every day; if weekdays are not possible try weekends
15) Provide patience and understanding to your pre-teen’s feelings, expressions, and privacy
16) Talk to them about the physical and emotional changes of puberty
17) Attend your pre-teen’s school and extra-curricular events
18) Allow your pre-teen’s friends to spend time at your house. This will also benefit you as you will get to know with whom your child spends time.

Related content: Coping with cliques: Tips for parents of tweens and teens

19) Help your pre-teen with their homework
20) Allow your child to exert independence in a safe way
21) Talk to your preteen, listen to his or her ideas and opinions, and do things together

Classes are available at ESCAPE for a variety of family situations including:

As children grow mom may be considering going back to work. The Empowerment for Motherhood class is focusing on mothers’ personal growth and development and Building Confident Teens focuses on some of the parenting challenges with raising adolescents.

Subscribe to the Houston Family Examiner as we continue talking to ESCAPE to learn more ways to connect with our children and put a lot of love in their heart. Our next installment in this series will include ways to work with your teen child.


ESCAPE is committed, both locally and globally, to providing child abuse and neglect prevention programs, court-ordered and CPS-approved parenting classes, parenting support groups, parenting tips and professional training tools that anyone can use to develop positive parenting and co-parenting, appropriate discipline, anger management and conflict resolution skills.

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