Parenting can be an emotional roller-coaster and a wild ride filled with loops of chaos, free falls of pure joy, and memories that last a lifetime. The transition between childhood and adolescence can be a challenging time for families.
Adolescence is one of the most rapid chapters of human development. What signifies the transition between childhood and adolescence? What is a “tween”? What age is a child considered a “tween”?
Is a 10-year-old a tween or child? A 10-year-old is a tween. A “tween” is a pre-teenager currently at a developmental stage between childhood and adolescence, hence the name “tween.” Children enter their tweenager years between the ages of 9 – 12 and sometimes as early as 8 years old.
Regardless of the age at which children enter their tween years, they’re all undergoing significant changes as they approach puberty and teen years.
Understanding your tween is quite the undertaking. This article aims to ease some of the “tween unknowns.”
Understanding the Transition From Child to Tween
As our children grow, we tend to focus on all the challenges to come during the teen years that we tend to forget the stage that precedes it.
The transition into tweenhood encompasses social-emotional health and behavior in addition to physical changes.
What Age Is a Tween?
A tween is a young adolescent between the ages of 9 – 12 years old. A tween is no longer a child but not quite a teenager. Tweens are fast approaching puberty or are in the early stages of puberty.
Behaviors that signal social-emotional and mental change during the tween years consist of mood swings, irritability, argumentative rule-bending behavior, stress, and an increase in risk-taking behaviors.
Cognitive changes are the main culprit behind many of the new and dramatic twists in your child’s personality. A tween’s mind is evolving from a self-centered way of thinking to a social way of thinking.
This new way of thinking contributes greatly to the new “stress” of fitting in, peer pressure, and mental health challenges.
Kids develop at various ages and stages. It is key to note that there is no specific time that puberty begins. Many adolescents will have major physical changes during their tween years.
During these tween years, kids will begin to have rapid growth spurts accompanied by growing pains and increased body hair. Tweens will begin losing their final baby teeth and develop acne.
Males may have increased growth in their genitals and body hair. Females may have the onset of their menstruation cycles and begin developing breasts.
Due to the variation in growth and development, some kids will begin to feel self-conscious, peer pressured, or humiliated at this age.
Normal 10-Year-Old Behavior
At the age of 10, expect your child to have more control over their emotions and the ability to express more complex emotions. It is normal for a child to push boundaries.
10-Year-Olds will begin testing new interests and social groups. At 10, adolescents will be shifting focus from self-centered activities to group/peer activities. Social pressure will begin to play a large factor in their day-to-day lives.
Signs Your Child Is Entering Their Tween Years
Aside from behavior and physical changes, signs that your child is entering their tween years consist of giving up behaviors or objects that might be deemed child-like.
Children that are approaching tweenhood often want to get rid of their “baby toys.” Children entering tweenhood will also become more secretive and vain and more concerned with peer relationships.
The entrance to tweenhood is often associated with a child’s desire to be more independent and form their own opinions and identity.
What To Expect In The Tween Years
The transition from child to tween often casts parents off into a dark sea of uncharted territory. Expect the unexpected. Expect challenge, change, and independence from your tween.
In addition, expect physical changes — everything from growth spurts to body hair and shifts in your child’s personality to mood swings and changes in interests.
Understand that social pressures, self-esteem issues, and the desire to fit in are normal. Expect new adventures, memories, and interests you and your child can share.
Understanding Your Tween Daughter
Your tween daughter is stuck between two worlds: not quite a child yet not a teenager. To understand your tween daughter, you have to accept change at this stage.
Don’t be fooled; they are still children, and they need their parent’s unconditional love and support, but give them a little independence.
Your tween daughter’s hormones are raging, creating a tornado of emotions. Encourage them to write down their thoughts and feelings. Support peer relationships, allow them to try new things, and support their new phases.
Understanding your tween daughters is rooted in accepting the changes they are experiencing and finding creative ways to support them along the way.
Understanding Your Tween Son
Tweens undergo remodeling of their brains at this stage. Understanding your tween son is acknowledging that despite their constant boundary-pushing and attitude, they need you more now than ever.
They are faced with extreme pressure to be “manly” or “strong,” and to meet that pressure, many tween boys push away from their emotions.
Females tend to enter puberty sooner than young men and many feel intense pressure to “grow up.”
Don’t take it personally, and encourage friendships and independence while supporting family relationships. Keep family values as your foundation, and allow for self-exploration during this time.
Tween dating has become increasingly common today and is considered “pre-dating.” Every child explores relationships and friendships; tween dating is an extension of this exploration.
If you allow your tween to begin dating, you should have an honest and open line of communication. Provide support, guidance, and boundaries for tween dating.
By supporting positive and healthy dating experiences, parents teach their tweens healthy relationship expectations. It is up to each family to decide whether they will allow their tweens to date and to establish an acceptable age for dating.
How To Help Your Child Through Their Tween Years
Navigating through the tween years is challenging for children and parents alike. During this time parents and children are learning, growing, and adapting.
Here are some helpful tips on how to successfully help your child through their tween years.
- Connect to and support their interests.
- Teach them about their brains and emotions.
- Don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations.
- Monitor your behaviors, tone of voice, and judgments when dealing with moodiness or negative behaviors.
- Discipline thoughtfully – think about cause and effect, not just the punishment
- Pick your battles – Not every moment has to be a teachable one.
- Listen to them.
- Allow for “do-overs” and give them a second chance to change behaviors
- Spend quality time together.
- DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY! – Tweens have a lot going on; understand and accept these changes, and don’t take their new moodiness or desire for independence personally.
For a more in-depth list of things you can do to help support your tween, check out this resource.
Is a 10-Year-Old an Adolescent?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an adolescent as a person between the ages of 10 and 19 years of age.
Although the transition from childhood to tween can feel abrupt and unexpected, it is the start of a new chapter. Being a tween provides a glimpse of independence and the developing personalities of your child.
It is challenging not only to experience the changes your child is exhibiting but to also accept them.
To make the transition from child to tween a more positive experience, support your tween by being understanding, trying new things, and helping them gain the independence they are searching for.
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.