Recently, you’ve been a little taken aback by the behavior of your 10-year-old. They’re brilliant when it comes to arguments to the point of being exhausting. They shock you with their ability to make foolish mistakes. They’ve even started acting and thinking of themselves as a teenager. It leaves you wondering “is my 10-year-old a kid or a teen?”
Your 10-year-old isn’t a kid anymore, nor are they a teen; they’re a tween. Tweens are adolescents 10 to 12 years old. This period falls between childhood and teenage years, hence the name.
In this article, we’re going to explain the tween years in detail. After all, this is a period of incredible growth and development for your child. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know exactly how to handle your tween.
What Exactly Is a Tween?
As we mentioned in the intro, a tween is a child between the ages of 10 and 12 years old, although it can vary. At this point in life, they’re too old to be viewed as kids anymore but not yet old enough to take on the responsibilities of teenagers.
What about that tween age range we just mentioned? Well, some say tweens are those 10 to 14 years old while others claim kids become tweens at eight to 12 years old. In rare instances, the term is only used to describe young girls. That’s not really common anymore, though. Boys are tweens, too.
The tween years are the time when children begin to discover just who they are and where they fit into the world. They’re beginning to think more like adults, or at least teens, but they lack the necessary experience.
Tweens will start to develop the ability to foresee consequences for various actions, though. Their sense of independence also begins to blossom, yet they lack the confidence to make the best choices for themselves until they get a bit older.
Being a tween is all about change. This is a transitional phase which offers difficulties and rewards alike. These not-quite-kids will experience physical and cognitive changes, such as puberty and other growth. They’re also challenged when it comes to their emotional and social development. Some tweens will start to look and act more mature at this point, but others will stay child-like both emotionally and physically. All will need guidance and support from their parents.
The Major Areas of Tween Development
As we mentioned, tweens go through major changes to their bodies and minds in just a few short years. The typical milestones at this age involve the onset of puberty, the desire for independence, and a need for social acceptance.
You may not be sure what to expect from this period. Don’t worry, as we’re here to help you. Let’s take a closer look at how your tween will develop in four separate areas: cognitively, emotionally, physically, and socially.
Thinking and reasoning grow in leaps and bounds during the tween years. This age group can begin thinking about more complex ideas rather than simply what they see around them. Tweens can better organize their thoughts in their mind as well. This improves their ability to plan. That said, tweens will generally still have some trouble separating opinions from facts.
By the age of 10, most tweens are learning how to use good judgment in making decisions. Their attention span starts increasing, which allows them to spend long periods doing things they enjoy (or don’t enjoy, like homework and tests). Logical thinking becomes much more pronounced, and tweens can express their point of view with more confidence.
Tweens will experience more complex emotions they may have never felt before. They can be extra sensitive when these newfound emotions are coupled with concern about other people’s opinions of them. After all, their self-esteem is often very fragile at this age. This can make most tweens unsure about developing their sense of self and figuring out who they are as a person.
Anxiety can become a strong emotion in these years as well. Real fears of war and violence can replace childhood fantasies of the boogeyman and monsters under the bed.
The first attractions to the opposite sex may manifest during this time. Tweens will outwardly deny these feelings but will then show off or act silly to get attention.
Many tweens will have major growth spurts around 10 years old. This tends to happen at a faster pace for girls. They may find themselves quickly towering over boys who are the same age. Tweens boys may only just show the very first signs of puberty. Others may have to wait until as late as 13 for these changes to take place.
Growth spurts aren’t the only physical change your tween will experience. Their agility, balance, and speed will improve. Hand-eye coordination gets better, too. They will also start to show other signs of puberty, like more sweat or oily skin. Tweens can have an increase in their appetite and a need for more sleep as their bodies change and grow.
Your tween’s growing sense of independence may be obvious at this point. They’ll tend to pull away from family and have more interest in friends. Making sure your tween’s friendships are healthy is essential to good social development, as peer pressure can become very strong during these formative years. Tweens with good self-esteem can resist negative pressure more easily.
Any friendships tweens form will be stronger and much more complex. They probably have a best friend they’re virtually inseparable from. Don’t be surprised if your teen tries to push the limits to see which rules are negotiable. Some will even begin to demonstrate a lack of respect for adults in charge. This is a normal part of growing up and is in no way a reflection on you as a parent.
Tween Parenting Tips
As a parent, your input is important to your tween’s growth as a person. Here is a list of helpful things you can do to aid in your tween’s development.
- Work with your tween to develop their sense of responsibility. Set household chores such as cleaning their room and getting homework done. Talk to them about saving money and making wise spending decisions.
- Sit your tween down and have a frank discussion about the concept of respecting others. Encourage them to reach out and help those in need. Talk about what they can do when others act in a disrespectful way.
- Be clear in your household rules and stick with them. Let your tween know what is expected of them when it comes to their behavior at home and in school.
- Spend down time with your tween. Talk to them about their friends, their accomplishments, and things that may be bothering them. Show an interest in their life.
- Help your tween make their own personal life goals. These can be short-term goals, long-term goals, or both. Cheer them on in chasing their dreams and help however you can.
When Is My Child Considered a Teen?
The teenage years are also referred to as adolescence, and occur from 13 to 19 years old. Your tween may try and act more and more like a teenager as they get older. They’re often in a rush to grow up as they explore new territory and have fresh life experiences. It’s important to pump the brakes and make sure your tween or teen enjoys the moment in front of them rather than look too far ahead.
Your 10-year-old tween has left childhood behind but isn’t quite a teenager. Tweens are at a very important stage in their life. They need a lot of room to grow and test out their new identity.
As a parent, you play a vital role in making sure your tween develops good values and behaviors. Being active in your tween’s life is crucial to their success. Stay involved, remain positive, and be there for them every day.
Nicole Malczan is a content marketing writer and freelancer. She's applied her knowledge of marketing and SEO to many clients over the years, ranging from food service to facilities management and currency exchange. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and music.