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Parenting a tween

My daughter does not want to spend time with us anymore. Shes withdrawn and prefers the company of her friends. She behaves like a teenager when shes barely eleven. But there are other times when she wants me to sit and play with her Barbie dolls. Its quite confusing!” complains Chitra Desai, mother of Aditi (11).

That is because Aditi is a tween” who is between childhood and adolescence. These are some common traits of tweens:

• They behave like teenagers at times
• Prefer friends to family
• They are willing to try new things and take risks
• Often question family values and ideas
• Want to have their own space
• Negotiates and argues frequently
• But plays with childhood toys

Here is some advice from tween moms on how to manage them-

When she wants to hang out with friends

The simplest way to resolve this issue is to invite her friends over and give them enough space of their own while keeping an eye on them,” says Sangeetha Gurumurthy, mother of Akhil (12). I supply snacks and CDs so they can have a party at home under my care, rather than chill out in unknown places

When she wants privacy

I finally moved my daughter to her own room. We expect her to keep the room clean and be responsible for that part of the house. Surprisingly, she seems more comfortable and confident after we let her have her own space”, says Mini Kurien, mother of Sarah (10).

If your tween snaps and yells a lot

Its hard to keep my cool when my son shows so much attitude,” says Zeena Khan, mother of Zehtab (12). These days, when he flares up, I bite my tongue and allow Zehtab to finish yelling. I then pronounce a consequence calmly – like banning use of electronics for the day or denying the company of friends for the week. He yells more but eventually understands and comes around. The secret is to behave calmly but firmly

She shows interest in the opposite gender

Weave gender and sex education in and around your day-to-day life — like when something adult pops up on television or when your child uses a popular expletive,” advises Renuka Sriram, a Chennai-based child psychologist. Encourage questions and be clear in your answers while stressing family values and boundaries

Its important to give your tween space and respect. Just like adolescents, tweens hate being treated like kids, even if they are kids. On the other hand, be ready to get into a rough-and-tumble childish session anytime your tween is in the mood for it.

Anitha Bennett

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