6 Tips to Stay Connected to Your Tween
When your kids are younger you spend almost every moment with them when you are not at work or they are not at school. You go on play-dates with them when they are toddlers, you hold their hands on the playground and catch them off the slide. You sit at baseball practices and you ride your bikes side by side.
But soon your kids start spending more time away from you – they spend time at friend's houses, at sleepovers, at more after-school activities, and just running around the neighborhood more independently with friends.
They are becoming tweens and spreading their wings a bit as they should. The tween years are those years where kids start dipping their toes in their own independence before the full responsibilities of their teens take hold, and when you as a parent get a taste of what it will be like when your kids start spending larger chunks of time away from home as their peer groups become even more important influences in their lives.
What I've noticed as a parent of a tween is that my tween still wants as much time and communication with me but it doesn't happen as easily as it once did. We might be spending more time running to practices or sleepovers, so simple snuggle time on the couch and laughing over board games doesn't just happen daily.
So it's up to us as parents to find these critical moments to keep the lines of communication open with our tweens and find time to still connect.
1. Talk when your tween wants to talk. Don't say ‘just a minute' or ‘just let me finish this' – give your tween that time. Maybe it's right before bed if they still let you tuck them in. Maybe it's when you're taking a load of laundry out of the dryer. Always be available to listen.
2. Find time to talk when neither of you has outside distractions – some of our best conversations now are in the car.
3. Make sure you still have family nights – maybe make Monday nights family night when everyone is home. Plan some fun activities! Game nights or movie nights are always a hit
4. Eat meals together. Maybe dinnertime is now crazy so get up early and have breakfast together. Cook with your tween – we have some great conversations and bonding over cooking together!
5. Take an interest in what your tween loves. Everyone wants to feel valued and the tween years are very vulnerable and emotional ones so take an interest in them – their clothing styles, their music, their friends, their hobbies and sports. Paint that room bright purple for her because it's just paint even though it's not your taste.
6. Make your house the place that your tween wants to hang out at and wants to invite their friends over. Get to know their friends and give your kids a space to hang out. They are reaching the age where they want to hang out more with friends, so why not hang out at your house?
The tween years are amazing as your kids start working their way towards adulthood – so relax and enjoy them and make sure you stay connected now with great communication; it will make the transition into their teens even easier.