The Pre-Teen Years- What is Exactly Going On?

6:22 PM


When children hit the age of 9-12 years, they become part of a special group known as pre-teens .  Their level of thinking and needs are entirely different from that of teenagers and that of young children.  These are the children who are about to enter the often tumultuous stage of teenage life or adolescence but are not exactly there yet.  If ages 5-9 are said to be in their middle years and teenagers are those aged from 13-19.  Pre-teens are found in between these two group thus the term tweens.

Developmental Factors

Pre-teens or tweens undergo developmental changes not only physically but also in other aspects such as cognitive and social-emotional development.  Thus, while parents are intent on the physical growth of their children, there is also a need to address their needs which may not be readily seen by parents or declared by tweens themselves.  Here lies the mystery in what really goes on inside their minds and hearts.  Parents who gain an understanding of their inner thoughts and feelings have a better chance of providing adequate support to them.

The concerns during pre-adolescence may have certain differences in relation to gender.  Pre-teen boys have different area concerns than pre-teen girls.  In fact, this is usually the stage where children have more friends of the same sex, often acting as if the other belonged to another world.  A complete turnaround occurs in teenage years where much interest on the opposite sex is manifested.

Inner Psychological Workings of Tweens

There is a lot going on in the minds of pre-teens.  This comes with the territory of undergoing almost simultaneous changes physically, intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically.  There will be marked differences in certain areas of family life such as the degree of parental attachment, way of communicating, acceptance of discipline, building of self-esteem, approach to character development, and the use of technology.   Parents soon find out that their children can and will think for themselves and may not be as accepting of "truths" as presented during early childhood.

Although the home and the educational institution which a child goes to will remain as the main influences in socializing, they are starting to develop their own views of things around them.  They are beginning to assert their individuality and independence which sometimes come across as an affront to parental authority.  Their thoughts and aspirations are becoming more realistic as they start to relate the present with a future.

Common Concerns During Pre-Teen Stage

Because a pre-teen child is starting to become his own, he expects to be treated as an individual and no longer as a mere member of the family.  He then expects to be asked about his opinion usually in the more common context of family decision-making.  It is quite common for most pre-teens to have a different view from the general consensus.  This is also the time when children give more attention to how they look and how they are perceived especially by their friends.

Studies have shown that this particular age group is the most vulnerable to the effects of marital separation of parents.  They are the ones who tend to take sides and will defend their choice fiercely.  It should also be noted that related studies reveal that this same group are known to come to the rescue of what they perceive to be the aggrieved parent, even to their own detriment.  

Another major concern in tweens is their exposure to technology and how it is being used in their everyday life.  This concern is actually a modern-day addition since children of previous generations have not been exposed as much as the children of today.  Exposure to other forms of media as well are creating some concerns because children of this age are very impressionable.  This should explain why many marketing efforts are directed towards this group.

My Say

At present, I have a twelve year-old son who appears confused most of the time with all the information and changes he is bombarded with on a daily basis.  I see in him the great desire to fit in with his peers while he struggles to maintain his individuality and the lessons we taught him during his early childhood.  I sometimes sense his perplexity whenever he sees our flaws as parents and as human beings, probably sometimes finding it difficult to reconcile the perfect picture he has created of us in early childhood with the realities of our humanity.

Because he is no longer a child, I allow him to see our human side in preparation for his eventual independence.  I try very hard to allow him to make his mistakes even if I had grown accustomed to doing everything for him, as long as it will not result to his physical harm.  Everyday, I have to remind myself that I should teach myself to let go, albeit in small steps.  After all, we will always be here for him no matter his age, no matter what. 






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54 comments

  1. Very informative article. I do remember when I was in that "confusing" stage. You're right - it was the time I first saw the humanity of my parents, that they were not perfect. That realization both disappointed and shocked me and I still remember the feeling. But that paved the way for truly knowing them as people, not just as parents (which is just one aspect of who they are) and consequently loving them in the best sense of the word.

    Thanks for the enlightening article. Though I don't have a child, it made me think back to my own childhood and understand what I went through then as a tween. :)

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    1. We can understand our children better when we look back to our own "confused" years.

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  2. It's the time where you get to see the bigger kids and you'd want to be one. You crave to be a teenager since its awkward already to play like a kid so you'd want to grow up faster.

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    1. This is also the time when children are most adventurous to try anything so parental guidance is critical.

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  3. My daughter who is in her pre-teens now. Very rebellious. She loves to be left alone, wanted to explore the life of her own. But I have to give her advice's. That sometimes lead to our arguments.

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    1. My own son who has always been very conforming without question now questions first before conforming.

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  4. I agree with you that technology also has changed the behavior of the tweens (this includes the kids and teens as well), I still remember my time at this stage, I was always outside playing patintero, luksong-baka, habulan, taguan... but now, almost all are attached to the ipad, iphone and all other gadgets..

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    1. The influence of technology is so hard to fight thus parents need to very consistent in rules regarding its use.

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  5. Informative article. I do remember when I was a pre-teen, I had problems dealing with my peers. thanks for sharing!

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    1. There is probably no one in this world who did not have difficulty in dealing with peers at some point. We just have to go through it.

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  6. I also have a twelve-year old son and I can see that he is still unsure on the things he wants. Just like you, I allow him to make mistakes and make sure he learn something from it. It is important to guide them because they may start to alienate themselves from the rest of the family.

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    1. Parents guide children every step of the way. We just have to learn to do it less invasively so our children will not resent it.

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  7. I agree with your approach that we should allow them to make mistakes so that they can learn from their mistakes. It more effective way I think as long as the mistakes does not result to something damaging or fatal.

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    1. Sometimes we harm them more by overdoing our protective instincts.

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  8. Thanks for the above information. My kids are growing up fast and one day, they will reach their pre teen years. I will keep what you have shared in my mind. Thanks again.

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    1. We learn by what we see from others but you'll learn from your own experiences. Trust your parental instincts.

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  9. as long as it's does not get out of hand, it should be just fine.

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  10. very informative and educational post. It all starts with trust that your child is able to live by your lessons and teachings.. but it never hurts to remind again of his values once in a while :)

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    1. Parents WILL have to learn to trust that their children will go the right way after doing what needs to be done as parents.

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  11. Pre-teens is the hardest part of most lives, this was where we wanted to be identified with certain type of group (nerd, bullies, classy etc) and this also the age where most parents and child seldom understands each other. Hope many parents and teenagers reads your post so they have a little idea how to deal with it =)

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    1. If parents can try to empathize more with their children's situation, there will be less misunderstanding. Children at this age are not yet fully equipped to understand the situation of parents.

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  12. I can't remember trying to fit in when I was in my pre-teen years, maybe because I'm used to observing people and keeping quiet in one corner and minding my own stuff. It was difficult when I was 14-16. Late bloomer :3

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    1. We all have our way of surviving the different life stages we go through.

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  13. based on my observation, this is the age bracket they start wanting to explore the world on their own... and they are very curious... especially the boys...

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    1. Parental guidance is really very critical at this time.

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  14. Nice post you have here. I don't have kids yet but its nice to read posts like this.

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    1. Its good you found this post useful. Thanks for visiting

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  15. I still have a long way to go since I have a 2 years old and an 8 months old but I still thank you for this very informative post because I'll be able to at least prepare my self on what is going to happen when my kids reach their pre-teens stage.

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    1. As the saying goes, preparation is half the battle won

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  16. to think we were once the middle schoolser - pre-teenagers! time flies!!!

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  17. I remember by pre-teen years and I was really busy with school. I had some fits about my siblings and my parents that time and it was a confusing stage but I fortunately got out of it whole and sane! I think my relationship with good friends really helped a lot.

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    1. This stage can really be confusing so it is best to guide the children well to prevent decisions that will result to regrets later in life.

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  18. I don't think I caused a lot of problems to my parents when I was in this age... or baka di ko lang alam...hehehe

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    1. We all hope we didn't give our parents such a hard time but we do tend to remember when we are faced with similar situations with our own children.

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  19. I may not be a parent yet but I've personally witnessed my youngest sister go through what your 12-year old son is experiencing now. My sister and I are a decade apart, so I was able to see her go through the adjustment phase.. So whenever she has questions and appear to be confused on some stuff, I always made sure that I was available for her. :)

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    1. Your sister is lucky. She has your parents and she has you.

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  20. i say, we still need to guide our children with the wisdom we learned from our life. Yahweh bless.

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  21. i was a little bit of responsible individual during my pre-teens.. but today, i can observe differently among the youth a little aggresiveness ...parents should be watchful .....

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    1. The present generation is indeed a lot more adventurous and aggressive than past generations.

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  22. I have a 13 year old son.He was waiting for this age coz he really want to be called a teenager since all of his classmates ate 15-16 years old already.He felt left behind and being ignored in their teenage conversation and stuff. Pre teenager is really an age where they want to be treated as grown ups.

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    1. They certainly revel in being treated as grown-ups.

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  23. You know what, while my kids are still on their toddler stage, I bought several books about understanding teens and how to handle them.

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    1. That just shows how concerned you are with taking care of your children

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  24. Well, they need to be taught of as individuals, but this sense of independence by these kids puts them at an increased risks, as they tend to do things without thinking. My 2 cents. hehe

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    1. That is why parental guidance is a must.

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  25. I just notice that at this stage my nephew became more mature at how he looks at things. He had changed his attitude to be a better person and is now studying on his own.

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    1. That is the positive side of growing up, learning to be more responsible for oneself and others.

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  26. This is very informative. I'll keep this handy once my 16-month old daughter reach her pre-teens. ^_^

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    1. I'm glad you appreciate this post. Thanks!

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  27. It is very important for parents to guide them during this time. What the parents impart to their child could make or break him.

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    1. Loving and understanding parents can encourage children towards the right path.

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