If you are reading this, and you are in the throws of the toddler years and are wondering when it will get easier and saner, this post is not meant to make you despair, but I can tell you, and I tell the parents and families that I work with that, toddler hood is NOT the most challenging part of parenting your kids. All the stages have their ups and downs. but each one comes with challenges and triumphs and we are into the tween years and rolling into the teen years faster than we would like to admit (the parents that is, the tween thinks it’s all good, she gets her own bus pass, a bank card, a phone and I have finally allowed her to wear lipgloss when she leaves the house!!)
The tweens is a fun stage. I mean fun in both the negative and the positive.
You can talk to them, and they have adult conversations, they have ideas and thoughts, and want to know about the world in a way that’s interesting and almost reasonable. They have started to form opinions and a vague idea of what life is like and they are looking at the world and their future with fresh eyes. For me, it’s a lot of fun, we go shopping, we watch tv together, we cook together, we have started running together, we advise each other on clothes (ok, she tells me what to wear and won’t let me buy things she deems not cool, and she steals all my nice clothes and can now fit into my fancy shoes I can’t wear any more thanks to knee surgery) and we have a very open and honest relationship when it comes to talking about sex, her body, and the changes she’s facing as she hits puberty. She also is sarcastic and has my sense of humour, which means we get along well, most of the time. She’s growing up and wants to do things and exert her independence and she likes to do things for herself, and hates it when she thinks we might be checking up on her.
She’s fierce and funny, and growing up and it’s amazing to watch.
But, there is a down side.
I commented to a friend the other day that tweenagers are basically toddler in semi adult body form. She looked horrified. (she has a toddler and four year old) and then had to explain.
Tweenagers seem to be far needier and more emotional at the age we are at (11 going on 15!!) and they can be very irrational and also quite demanding. It feels to me like my daughter sometimes has gone from being quite calm, and easy going at aged 8/9 to suddenly reverting back to the toddler years when there was a lot of tears and drama (usually because I wouldn’t allow her to wear just her swimming costume and wellies to nursery, now it’s because I won’t let her have an iPhone with WhatsApp!) and no matter how calm and rational, you the adult try to be, there is sometimes just no reasoning with them. They also seem to loose their self care abilities and revert to needing to be babied.
Tween – “my head is sore”
Me – “go and get the medicine from my room, I will give you some”
Tween disappears, and returns twenty minutes later, still complaining of a headache. I ask if they have brought me the medicine. Much pouting and mumbling. Apparently this is too much to ask and mum must go get it and dispense it. She also often needs a lot of comfort and reassurance and consoling for matters which seem very trivial to me, but that at her tender tween age, are very serious.
Oh, and the door slamming, foot stamping, irrational outbreaks of tears and cries of “it’s not fair!” are still there. She doesn’t hurl herself on the floor in public, any more, but she does do a fairly dramatic exit of a room and retreat loudly to her bedroom to have a good cry.
I have spoken to other parents of kids at this age and who are also past this stage and it seems this is normal. We swing from being delightful and fun to be around to needy toddler in an adolescent body, and sometimes it’s bewildering and confusing (for the parents as well as the tween!!)
Basically tweenagers are giant toddlers. You get more vocabulary and they can string a whole sentence together and they don’t wet themselves any more, but the tantrums and irrationality are just the same…
This doesn’t reassure you if you are still just parenting a toddler, I know.
Sorry about that… 😉