What To Expect From Your Tween

Eye rolling, back chat and complaining are some of the behaviours you can expect from your tween on a daily basis, the key is coping is to not take it personally.

tween girl

Sure their huffing and puffing can’t be ignored or condoned, but according to US-based psychotherapist Susan Galvin, such behaviours are a part of this stage of development.

Her advice is that we parents don thick skin and recognise that it’s really more about what our tween is experiencing and less about us.

Attitude from our tweens can often be attributed to:

1. A change occurring in their brain that causes increased impulsivity and heightened emotions, this leads them to get overly angry or sad and react out of proportion to the event.

2. A need to begin separating from parents and forming their own identities.

3. A subconscious and developmental need for them to test the limits of their power with parents to get confirmation that we will reliably hold our ground and keep them safe.

4. They are preoccupied, distracted and consumed by their ever-changing social world and bodies, and not thinking about their parents’ emotions, needs, or reactions.

What you can expect from your tween:

  • Questioning the way you do things
  • Eye rolling
  • Criticising and nitpicking
  • Sighs
  • Huffs and puffs
  • Complaining
  • Challenging your beliefs
  • Overreacting and easily becoming anxious or angry
  • Back chat

This behaviour maybe come and go, and one minute your tween may be genuinely kind and sweet, the next they are hurling back chat like there’s no tomorrow.

Much like the terrible twos, Galvin says this behaviour is a part of how our tweens are developmentally wired.

She says while it’s challenging, it’s healthy for tweens to express some of their feelings in this way in order to move to the next level of maturity.

What To Expect From Your Tween

How should we respond to our tween’s attitude?

  • Try your best not react immediately.
  • Remind yourself this is just a phase and practice methods for staying calm.
  • When disrespectful behaviour rears its ugly head, teach your tween about what happens when their impulses control them and how that behaviour impacts others in the family.
  • Sometimes the best response in the moment is no response. Parents don’t have to address every issue with their tween at the exact moment that it presents itself, wait until all parties have calmed down.

Could I be part of the problem?

As this behaviour is developmentally normal, often parents are encouraged to consider if they might be contributing to their tween’s attitude by asking themselves a few questions…

1. Do you talk to your child respectfully even if you’re angry? As role models regulating our emotions is important because it also helps to keep the conflict from escalating.

2. Do you react to your child’s attitude with your own attitude? This can exacerbate the conflict.

3. Do you engage with your tween’s sassy attitude in any way? The sulking, complaints about how unfair life and mumblings under the breath are powerful hooks that give attention to a tween’s behaviour.

4. Do you overreact to your tween’s attitude? If so, this may indicate that there are problems outside the parent-child relationship that need to be addressed.

Here’s a post about some of the things we said about parenting before we become mums.


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