It creeps up on you without you even noticing, apparently overnight that charming, adoring 10 year old that hung on your every word, laughed at your silly jokes and only ever wanted to be just like you develops an attitude that only Victor Meldrew could aspire to. Smiles are replaced with snarls, cheekiness with downright rudeness and as for being helpful and willing – forget it! Welcome to the wonderful world of the TWEENager!
“Tween: preadolescence, that is, the stage between middle childhood and adolescence in human development, in the range of 10 to 12 years old”
Not quite a teen, but not a small child, the tween is a stage of childhood that I’m sure didn’t exist when we were small and is possibly a product of being given too much too soon, an awareness of the media and social pressures or perhaps it’s more to do with children entering puberty at a younger age, but whatever the reason it brings with it a whole array of new problems and issues that make the terrible twos seem like a walk in the park!!
Oh no, good old Primark is not for the Tween, absolutely not! It’s all about shopping in Superdry, Jack Wills or Hollister (assuming you’ve brought a torch with you as the shop resembles a nightclub more than a retail unit!). Suddenly you are spending more on an outfit for your little treasure than you’d ever spend on yourself! Its not just clothes either, bags, wallets even pencil cases all have to have the designer tag and price…
Friendships have moved on since back in the day when the only means we had to communicate was the landline (after 6 when it was cheaper!) and pen pals. Now the tweens have their phones, iTouches, laptops, gadgets galore to chat on iMessage, Blackberry Messenger, Kik, Touch, the list is endless – they can even communicate whilst playing a game on the X-box, so it feels like you have half of the tweenage population of your village in your front room. With this increased communication comes a lot of fun and giggles but also a seemingly endless amount of drama. It’s easy to see why cyber bullying is on the increase, it’s so much easier to be unkind when there is a screen separating you and it can be difficult for children to understand how what they’re saying may be coming across to the person they’re saying it to. Suddenly school life isn’t left behind at the school gate, it’s very much a part of what goes on at home too, intruding into family life and not giving these little ones (because they are still children) time out to regroup and gain perspective.
Attitude and lots of it!
Perhaps the most obvious symptom of the Tween, bad attitude! Demonstrated in a number of ways, eye rolling, dismissive sighing, door slamming and my particular favourite, muttering under their breath, the tween has evolved many, many ways of making it extremely clear that anything you have to say is not worthy of their attention and certainly doesn’t deem any response more than a grunt.
You may not notice at first, enjoying the peace and quiet and a brief respite from the attitude (see above!), but all of a sudden you notice that your tween has disappeared, preferring to spend time in their room, rather than with you, the embarrassing parent. Don’t despair though, there will be the brief appearance at mealtimes (cue eye rolling and snarling!!) and perhaps when help is needed with homework or pocket money needs replenishing.
So how do we cope with this new challenge? Perhaps in the same way we dealt with temper tantrums, potty training, sleepless nights: patience, reason and the deep seated belief that one day things will get easier. They will, won’t they?!