Have a Tween/Middle Schooler? I bet you’re trying to figure out just what exactly is going on with them.
Well one parent messaged our Dr. Kay for advice. Her daughter is being snubbed by the group of girls in her class and she desperately wants to fit in. The girls may not be the best fit for her, but she doesn’t see it that way. She’s in the process of growing up and leaving her childhood behind. She’s full of uncertainty, learning to become independent from her parents, and wanting to feel like she belongs with her friends.
This ‘struggle to secure identity’ can start anytime between the ages of 11 and 15 (sometimes much later). It’s a process that varies in intensity, for some it is an ongoing lost and found process; for others merely a bump in the road.
If your child is also looking for acceptance, and having trouble finding their way, check out a few of Dr. Kay’s tips:
- Social adversity builds strength in character and in coping. Parents need to be supportive, but not too intrusive. Tweens need to solve their social dilemmas because that is exactly the developmental challenge they face.
- While parents need to encourage their tween to be their authentic self among peers, it is also key to recognize the importance of fitting in. As long as your family values are not compromised, it is well-advised to allow your child to have some of the same or similar styles of clothing and accessories as her peers.
- Our children pick up on our fears, doubts and anxieties. Be careful not to project your own fears and past wounds onto your daughter.
- Offer them an opportunity to sort out her thoughts and feelings. Engage in active listening, rather than advising, which could resort in the loss of open dialogue. It is through active listening that they will feel affirmed and empowered.