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The tweens and teens survival guide

13 March 2019
Ticking off developmental milestones is exciting for every parent. But as the dreaded teenage years start to approach, it’s natural to start feeling a little trepidation.
The tweens and teens survival guide

Pointers for parents of tweens and teens

Indeed, as kids transition from young tweens into teenagers, there are lots of changes (and perhaps a few challenges) you can expect. But more than ever, as your children begin to navigate a more adult world, they’ll be more reliant on your support than ever.

So here are a few pointers on what you can expect. Bear in mind, there is no definitive growing-up guideline, and this is just a general outline of a child’s development. If you need individual advice, consult your local GP.

Tweens

From age 10, your child is now a ‘tween’. Expect to see physical, emotional and social changes as signs of puberty appear, particularly in girls (boys start puberty around age 12).

  • Tweens experience a roller-coaster of emotions. Your child either “loves” or “hates” everything, nothing in between. Self-awareness is high; however, emotional development may not keep up.

  • Cell-phones are no longer just for emergencies. The latest iPhone is apparently a necessity. Tweens find it emotionally important to have friends and may feel the need to fit in and conform, thanks to a great deal of peer pressure.

  • Body image, selfies and social media are seemingly important. As your child goes through physical changes, they become more aware of their body. Issues with body image may be apparent.


Young Teens

At around 12 years old, your child is now a young teen (and they sure will act like it). These are a few developmental milestones you can anticipate.

  • You’re getting the silent treatment, again. With changing hormones, mood swings are now a frequent occurrence. Try to be patient and understanding during this time.

  • School was “fine”, sport was “fine”, everything is “fine”. You’ll get used to this one. Young teens appear uninterested and show less affection towards their parents. They’ll open up in their own time (usually when they need something).

  • Puberty is in full swing! Boys and girls experience growth spurts at different times. Boys may start to sprout body hair, their voices deepen, and sex organs mature. Girls develop breasts, start their periods and grow body hair. This can bring up feelings of uncertainty and feeling at odds with their appearance. Personal hygiene also becomes increasingly important now.

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Teenagers

From 15, this is what you can expect from a hormonal high-schooler.

  • Alcohol and smoking – help! Teens may be exposed to these risky behaviours. As they are very impressionable at this age, helping them steer clear is important.

  • A ‘not so sweet’ 16-year old (some of the time). Tension and conflict between you and your teenager is to be expected. They are growing independent and you may feel they are distancing themselves from you. The path to adulthood is a rocky one (for you both), but your teen still needs love and support.

  • Romance and dates are on the horizon. Try not to give your teenager’s first date the third degree. As they start showing more interest in romantic relationships and sexuality, it may be a good time for a sex talk.

  • Decisions, decisions, decisions. Teenagers are starting to think about their future. As they begin navigating career paths, listen to what they have to say and help guide them towards the right decisions.

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Important things to know

Information correct as at March 2019. Sources - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -June 2018, Parent Further - June 2018, University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital - June 2018

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