The Development from Child to ‘Tween


When you brought your baby home, you thought he or she would stay young forever… or at least until high school, right? But more and more parents are contacting their trusted psychologist in Littleton to ask where their darling little boy or girl went, and how to navigate the challenges of the little man or little woman that has replaced them! If your child has morphed from a little kid to an almost-teenager overnight, you likely have a ‘tween on your hands. Read on to find out more about what this is, why it happens, and how to survive with your sanity intact!

What is a tween, anyway?

A few decades ago, the concept of the “between” years became popular—the ages, usually between 10-12, where your child resents being called a “little” anything, and starts showing interest in adult or teen concepts. While professionals might call this time “preadolescence,” the word “tween” has caught popularity and separates this important developmental stage into one of its own.

What is happening to my child?

The ‘tween years are a time of big changes, whether we are talking about physical, emotional, cognitive, or social changes. Your child is likely going through puberty, flooded with hormones, and tasked with managing the adult responsibilities of increased self-care. School demands more as they are able to be more responsible. Friends may change, and dating becomes a pressing issue. Many people find that this stage is not unlike the “terrible twos,” and some parents will recall the familiar screams of “I can do it myself!” Your child may test boundaries that they had accepted for years, even though nothing else has changed. Why? Because they are changing, and they must renegotiate the world around them.

What can I do?

Just like any stage of parenting, your child will still continue to benefit from love, support, and clear expectations. However, your child may be more able to engage as a part of the decision-making process. Encourage this responsibility by helping your child make great choices. For example, if your child’s bedtime has always been 8 o’clock, they might suggest (or demand!) a later bedtime for middle school—even though most middle schools start earlier. Help your ‘tween work through the decision-making process by asking questions like “how much sleep do you need to be awake for your favorite class?” or “can you save time by packing your bag at night?” or other things to start a lifelong process of development.

The ‘tween years can be a challenge, but if you find that your relationship with your child is suffering greatly, or your child is demonstrating major changes at home and at school, seeking the help of a Highlands Ranch child behavior psychologist can be useful. Dr. Lazarus has helped guide plenty of kids through the ‘tween stages, watching them emerge as strong teens who grow up to be responsible, healthy adults.

Categories: Parenting Strategies


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