The tween years can be rough on kids and parents alike. School changes, life changes, hormones and the pressures to grow up can lead to some crazy-making behavior.
The middle school years can be brutal on kids, and it's more important than ever to foster a close connection with your kids during this time. Preteens need your guidance and it's so important that parents and kids feel like they're on the same side.
Time doing fun things together goes a remarkably long way in helping all of this happen and making these years much smoother for everybody.
Here's five ways.
Play some games. This is a great age for family games. Kids are old enough to play pretty sophisticated and difficult games, and they still want to play with their parents! Some favorite games at our house include Mastermind, the Scrambled States of America (kids have an equal chance of winning this fast paced, silly, educational game), Apples to Apples Junior, Yahtzee, Pictionary and Taboo. You can often find games like these at garage sales or thrift stores for next to nothing, too.
Cook together. Tweens are old enough to learn some simple (or not so simple) recipes and time in the kitchen can be great for bonding and for fun. Teach your child some family recipes, watch shows like Iron Chef together and stage your own version, check out cookbooks from the library or even make up your own recipes. You can also check out Cooking With Kids for lots of easy, tasty recipes that have been family-tested here.
Have a photo shoot. Grab a digital camera and take turns making funny faces and otherwise posing for each other. Try action shots like jumping in the air, glamour shots, strange angles, odd expressions and lots of wacky poses. You can also just head out together and take pictures of things you find. Kids this age tend to love photography and it can be a great bonding activity. You can edit the photos together for free afterwards for free online or through fun apps.
Get moving. Grab a soccer ball, basketball, frisbee or some other sports equipment and head out to play together. You can shoot hoops in the driveway, play informal soccer game in the back yard or play tennis in the park. Experiment with different activities and feel free to mix it up. What matters is to have some physical fun.
Get crafting. Head to a craft store and pick up some fun art or craft supplies to do together. Girls and boys alike can really get into art at this age. Try picking up some good quality charcoal pencils and a sketch pad for each of you, a cake decorating kit, or materials for a hobby your child has always wanted to learn. You can also take some fun classes together at stores like Michael's.