As your child ages, you’ll notice that they are leaving behind the years of childhood and entering a different phase. While not yet adolescents, they are also no longer classified as young kids. The age this starts to happen can vary.
Is a 9-year-old a tween or child? A 9-year-old is considered a tween, though you may notice signs of them moving into “tweenage years” earlier or later than this specific age. Tweens are somewhere in between childhood and the teen years, and this is a major time of transition in a person’s life.
Your tween needs you just as much as they did as toddlers, though their needs are different. Know everything you can about this phase so you will know what behavior to expect and how to offer support.
Understanding the Transition From Child to Tween
There’s not one magic moment when you realize your child has now entered the tween stage. However, you will likely see differences in behavior, appearance, and emotions.
What Age Is a Tween?
Your child is considered a tween between the ages of 9 and 12. These years mark the transition phase from child to teen.
You will notice that your child’s behavior shifts as they go into their tween years.
They will likely be more aware of what other people think of them, and they may experience embarrassment easily. Emotions are big and fluctuate due to hormonal changes.
Tweens also prioritize their friendships. That doesn’t mean they don’t still care about their parents. They just tend to be hyper aware of if they are fitting in with peers, and they desperately seek out a group.
Both males and females will experience significant body changes during the tween years. These may include:
- Losing all of their baby teeth
- Beginning of the menstrual cycle
- Body hair
- Growth spurts
Normal 9-Year-Old Behavior
Your 9-year-old is going to want more independence even if they aren’t mature enough for it. You will have to figure out ways to offer them autonomy in a safe environment.
Your 9-year-old may also classify their old hobbies as childish and start seeking out new ways to define themselves. This can lead to them trying and abandoning a ton of activities until they find the one they feel is the right fit.
You will also notice that tweens tend to sleep more than younger kids and sometimes at odd times. The growth spurts and emotional changes are exhausting, and this will show in how much rest your tween will need.
Signs Your Child Is Entering Their Tween Years
If your child is pulling away, very emotional, and physically changing, they are entering the tween years. You may see signs of these changes before a child’s 9th birthday or slightly after it.
What To Expect in the Tween Years
The tween years can be a fun time to connect with your child, but they can also be very challenging. Your child will have big emotions that they don’t know how to handle just as they feel ready to be more independent.
Parents have to walk a line that straddles being there for their children while allowing them the growth and autonomy they desire.
Though friends take center stage during the tween years, a parent’s support and approval are still essential for your child.
Understanding Your Tween Daughter
Tween girls often experience a plummet in confidence just as they are entering the years when they need it most. Your tween daughter may seem more insecure or defensive, and it’s hard not to take this behavior personally.
One of the best things you can do for your tween daughter is to encourage her strength and help her be involved in activities where she feels capable.
Sports or other physical activities might be a good fit because research proves that girls who play sports have higher self-esteem than those who don’t.
Your daughter might also do well with a physical activity that makes them feel strong because it focuses on what the body can do instead of just how it looks.
Physical appearance becomes more important to girls during the tween years, so it’s important to make sure your child isn’t negatively obsessing about their body.
Understanding Your Tween Son
Your tween son needs to know that there is no one way for boys to act. As he enters the tween years, he may start to see that the expectations for male behavior don’t include showing feelings or being sensitive.
Nurture your son’s tender side, and make sure he knows that it’s perfectly normal and safe for boys to have big feelings.
Boys can start to feel awkward in their bodies during the tween years because of all the changes, so remind your son that these growth spurts are normal.
Boys who hit their growth spurts a bit later may be self-conscious in their early tween years, but remind them that there is no set time for these things to happen.
At some point in the tween years, your child is likely going to bring up dating. While a 9-year-old is too young to go out on dates, your 12-year-old tween will probably think they are old enough.
Tween dating is tricky and should have a lot of guidelines. Group activities are best, and encouraging your kids to simply maintain strong friendships during this time is recommended.
The tween years often see your child experimenting with higher-risk behavior, and this is not the time to set them free on one-on-one dates.
How To Help Your Child Through Their Tween Years
No matter how your tween acts, they need you. Your support can help them through years that are confusing and emotional.
- Give them one-on-one time.
- Don’t over-personalize their behavior.
- Sincerely listen to them.
- Make conversations about sex and relationships frequent and honest.
- Get interested in their hobbies.
What Is the Most Awkward Age for Kids?
Though not every person will give the same answer, most people agree that the tween years capture some of our most awkward periods. The ages between 9-12 are the years when kids feel like they are in transition, not fully fitting in anywhere.
Wrapping It Up
Your child’s tween years can be full of great memories despite the challenges they present. Be a steady presence for your child to help them through this transition.
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.