Parenting the Awkward Tween Stage

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The In Be-tween-ers

“Tween” is the modern-day moniker dubbed for kids experiencing the awkward ages between eight and 12. They’re not really children anymore, but they’re certainly not teenagers. At this point, kids are leaving toys behind for social exploration. Emulating the lifestyle of the teens they see is the tween’s goal.

The Tween Point of View

You may not remember entirely your own pre-adolescent years, which is perhaps a positive thing. However, your child is experiencing them now. When you’re interacting with your tween, remember that these years are characterized by new issues. Your child may no longer say everything that comes to mind. Some typical thoughts might include the following:

  • I want to hang out with my friends.
  • I want a cell phone.
  • Hannah Montana is okay, but I like Glee better.
  • Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and Keisha are the best singers.
  • I like trendy clothes and picking my own outfits.

The Sartorial Tween

The teen years are a popular source of material for the media, so it isn’t surprising that a tween-ager on the brink of those years would want to look and act like the singers or actors she sees. However, clothing deemed appropriate for a seventeen- or even twenty-year-old is more often than not an inappropriate choice for a child who is, after all, still a child. This concept may be a difficult one for your female tween.

Many young girls view their clothing as an extension of themselves yet have no notion of sex appeal or its affect on the opposite sex. So how do you make your tween happy while still maintaining familial principles? A little compromise in each fashion situation can help.

  • Skirts and Shorts: Miniskirts and Daisy Dukes are teen staples, so your tween may covet them as fashion must-haves. Make them more age-appropriate by pairing them with solid leggings or tights.
  • Dresses: Short dresses showing a little too much pre-teen leg can become more suitable with leggings or when layered over jeans to become a fashionable tunic.
  • Tops: Stylish deep v-necks, scoop necks, or backless tops often worn by teens can become tween friendly with the aid of a tank top or t-shirt underneath.
  • Costumes: At Halloween time, some tweens will want to ooze sex appeal not yet right for the eight- to twelve-year-old kids who are now put off by the thought of dressing up as Dorothy.  You can find teen costumes that offer solid leggings or tights so your child shows less skin while wearing skirts or shorts. If you live in colder areas, this can also help keep your tween warm while trick-or-treating. While the sexy barmaid costume is best left for the over-twenty-one crowd, you can make some outfits age appropriate by adding a matching sweater to the outfit.

Ten Going on Twenty-Five

It may be daunting for you, as a parent, to approach your child’s tween years as rapid changes occur and your child loses interest in previous toys and activities. Your child is becoming an adult before your eyes, but don’t worry — eighteen is still a long way off. Besides, that new cell phone is pretty handy for keeping tabs on your social butterfly tween.


One thought on “Parenting the Awkward Tween Stage

  1. Trecia

    My son is now 8 going on 9 in September and I actually didn’t realise that age 8 is already considered tween. Thanks for this post – it’s given me new insight in my son.

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