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Parenting a tween can be difficult. Kids often become more ornery and less compliant at this stage, and in today's world there are more things to worry about than ever. In this article, I intend to share eight pieces of advice for parents of tweens from the perspective of someone who was a tween not so long ago.
Tween Parenting Tip #1 - Monitor Computer Use
The internet has its good aspects and its bad aspects. As the parent of a tween, there are some things you can do to make sure that your tween is staying off of websites that he or she should not be on. First, don't let him or her have a computer in his or her room. Keep your family computer or your tween's computer in a central location of your house and put a password on it that only you and your spouse know. Beyond this, set a time limit for non-school-related computer use, such as one half-hour every day. Rather than relying on software to protect your tween, the best thing that you can do to keep your tween safe is to regulate computer use and to keep the computer in the open and safeguarded with a password. Also take the time to explain to your tween that he or she should never meet anyone that he or she meets online.
Tween Parenting Tip #2 - Encourage Your Tween to Have Friends Over
It is as important for you to know your tween's friends as it is for you to know your tween. If you allow your tween to have friends over at your house, you get to meet the people with whom your tween is hanging out and by which your tween is being influenced. This could either quell any concerns that you have or it could allow you to see future problems before they occur. And you can also keep an eye out on your tween and his or her friends if they are spending time at your home, as opposed to spending time at another person's house.
Tween Parenting Tip #3 - Set a Reasonable Curfew and Bedtime
Tweens should be able to stay up a little later, but they should still have limits. I would suggest extending bedtimes and curfews by one hour as your tween enters middle school. For example, a bedtime of nine could be extended to ten, and a curfew of eight could be extended to nine. As your tween becomes a teenager, a bedtime will matter less and less. However, I would suggest sticking with a curfew of ten at the latest until high school, when it could be extended to eleven.
Tween Parenting Tip #4 - Give Chores
If your tween has not already begun to help around the house, it would be a good time to establish a set of weekly chores. One or two simple tasks every day would not be asking too much of an eleven or twelve year old. When I was a tween, I had to clean the bathroom sinks and toilets about twice a week, as well as take out the garbage when it was full. Pets require a lot of work, so tweens could also be enlisted to help in that area. Chores help to develop a sense of responsibility and a work ethic in tweens, while also reducing your workload to a certain extent. Make a printable sheet of chores and hang them on the fridge or somewhere else that your tween sees often. They will know what has to be done on what day and you will be able to check off the task upon its completion.
Tween Parenting Tip #5 - Give an Allowance
In exchange for the completion of chores, give an allowance. It doesn't have to be a ton of money, but $5 or $10 a week is a good wage for a week of work from your tween. This will motivate your tween to complete chores and will give your tween a chance to learn about financial responsibility. I know that when I was a tween and young teenager, I made a lot of poor financial decisions. However, as a result of making those mistakes with small amounts of money, I am much more conservative with money now. If your tween does not complete a day of chores, only pay him or her 80% of the weekly allowance. Do this as much as necessary. Likewise, if your tween successfully completes chores every day for a month, give a bonus of another week's wages. Don't force your tween to save, but encourage him or her to set up a savings account to start planning for the future.
Tween Parenting Tip #6 - Encourage Success at School
Success in middle school is a good indicator of success at high school. For this reason, make sure that your tween studies and does his or her homework. It's not necessary to be an overbearing parent, but encouraging and rewarding scholastic success for your tween is important. It may help your tween to start looking at careers and to know the amount of education they require. Again, don't try to plan out your tween's life, but make him or her aware of the importance of education.
Tween Parenting Tip #7 - Discipline When Necessary
You can be a loving parent and discipline your tween at the same time. Tweens will try to push boundaries in order to see what the boundaries are. Stand your ground, provided that your policies as a parent make sense and are age-appropriate. Make sure that any punishments fit the offense and also make sure that you discuss with your tween what transpired and why it was an issue. It's not fun to have to discipline tweens, but sometimes it has to be done.
Tween Parenting Tip #8 - Spend Time With Your Tween
Tweens often have more going on with friends, school, and extracurricular activities. Whether or not this is the case with your tween, try to spend time with your tween and take advantage of the fact that you can do more adult activities with your kids. For example, you could read a young-adult novel together and talk about it or have your tween teach you a few things about a sport that he or she is playing. It's important to spend time with your tween and to openly acknowledge that they are growing up and maturing. This will help prevent the problem of your future teenager "acting out" in order to establish that he or she is mature or an adult.
Parenting a tween is not easy. I know this because I saw my parents become frustrated from time to time while raising me and my brother. However, I believe that the above tips can help a tween to mature and can prevent problems in the future. Hopefully you will find these tips to be effective. Have any further tips of your own for parenting tweens? Feel free to share them in the form of a comment. Thank you for reading!