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.
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.
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.