N might have been 8 year old for a month, but it was only last week that it clicked. I have a tween boy.
When most people think of tweens they think of pre-teen girls, growing up far too early, going through puberty and hormone changes and plus there can be attitude changes. I’ve never really thought too much about tween boys, and what it would be like to have one in the house. The usual definition of a tweenager or tween is between the ages of 8 to 12 (some say 10-12), so there’s a few years of experiencing and getting used to life with them coming up.
Back when I was an 8-12 year old, not much changed. ‘Tweens’ weren’t a thing. It was just that inbetween age where you were getting more confident in life and being further up in school, but you weren’t old enough or cool enough to be let loose like teens you knew were. 30 years ago, not many hit puberty before secondary school, so the tween ages weren’t as obvious as nowadays.
A sensible explanation of a tween is from Kate over at Childhood 101.
With girls going through puberty earlier than boys, they’ll be the hardest hit by all the emotions and changes, but speaking to other mums, they’re definitely finding things going on with their tween boys as well.
Changes tweens go through
- Emotional changes
- Growing independence (or wanting to be)
- Parental expectations and how they react
- Increasing pressures from school and change of school
From talking to friends it sounds like there’ll be more anger, more sensitivity, more questions and potentially more hiding away their feelings.
So far, I’ve not seen much difference in N since he turned 8. In the past, over a couple of birthday months we’ve had teariness or a bit of stroppiness, but it’s been over in a few weeks. There have been a couple of occasions where he’s got a bit upset where I wouldn’t have expected it. His last team tennis match for example. But that’s gone and he’s back to his normal self again.
Supporting tweens and how to cope with changing behaviour
Here’s some of the ways I’m planning to deal with having a tween boy.
1, Listen and communicate
Making sure N knows that there’s people to talk to for anything, whether it’s us at home, other family members or people at school.
2, Encouraging self-belief and confidence
It’s so important that as he gets to the age where peer pressure is starting to increase that he’s confident in his own knowledge and can stand up for what he believes.
3, Teaching about puberty
I’d rather we taught him than leaving it all until school. Thanks to Operation Ouch, he knows some of the non-sexual changes, but I need to get hold of a good book so we can either talk through it or he can look at it himself and ask questions afterwards, especially how puberty relates to boys. I can’t see the OH talking N through it all, so I definitely need some help given I’ve not been through it myself.
4, Education about girls
N knows about how babies are made and knows about women having periods. But I want to make sure he knows how he can support any of his girl friends who might be struggling or need some support, and definitely respect as he moves into teen years later on.
5, Working out expectations and consequences
What works for disciplining younger children won’t necessarily work for N as he gets older. We don’t need to discipline him much so I’m hoping he still wants to do the right thing and please us as he gets older. I’m not looking forward to any lippy behaviour, so I might have to rethink things, but also make sure he’s clear on what behaviour we’re expecting even if he’s pushing in other directions.
6, Have fun
I want to ensure that we still make the time to go out and do things that we both enjoy together. Plenty of laughing and talking, plenty of silliness and lots of exploring on days out.
Now it’s a wait and see what might hit us N, as the next few years unfold.
Have your children reached or passed the tween years? What advice would you give?