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What's it like parenting a tween?

(24 Posts)
Whirliwig72 Mon 30-Jul-12 19:12:42

Please excuse me if this is a stupid question that is impossible to generalise about but I'm a parent of a preschooler (and a baby) boy and I realise I have a very vague idea of what's ahead of me. Very few of my friends have older children (over 4) and I'd love to know:

Is parenting a tween easier or harder than a younger child?

If you have a tricky (pushing the boundaries all the time ) preschooler are you likely to end up
with a difficult tween.

What are the most common worries / concerns of tween parents?

Do you still take time to 'play' with tweens or is it more a case of hanging out together?

Whirliwig72 Mon 30-Jul-12 19:18:18

Just to add thanks in advance for your replies grin

Whirliwig72 Mon 30-Jul-12 19:46:42


the username says it all!

One of mine was an angelic toddler. She's now possessed.
In some ways it's easier...we get enough sleep, they can go off and do things independently, or join in activites with us.
Our worries are:
Money. They are stupidly expensive, (think £300+ per year for school trips after year 5, you start paying VAT on clothes long before they are actually fully grown, electronic paraphenalia, hobbies, holidays and attractions (kids meals in restaurants stop at 10-12, Merlin group's attractions start charging adult prices from 12 for example.)

The influence of friends being greater than our influence. And their friends can be unreliable.

My eleven-year-old has hit puberty early. She looks 13-14ish. The implications of the interest she'll draw from older men in the next couple of years really scares me.

In some areas the strategic planning ahead for getting into a good secondary school really do start at the pre-school level.

slacklucy Mon 30-Jul-12 20:13:49

My ds1 was an easy easy baby, happy smily & laid back. At about age 9 to 10 he was a bit stroppy, answering back & trying his luck.
He is almost 13 now & apart from the odd hormonal mood swing making him a little short tempered at times & i sometimes have to remind him that he is speaking to his mum & not his mates generally he is lovely, funny & good company.
He does smell if i dont make him shower & has hairy armpits at a younger age than i expected.
He has a blackberry that he paid for himself but really doesnt expect expensive items although his xmas list is a bit pricier than it used to be.
Spends ages in the shower & doing his hair but forgets to clean his teeth
His bedroom is a mess but his football & fball boots sparkle

He still loves a cuddle & tells me he loves me
Oh & he finds me soooo embaressing that he would sooner die than be seen with me.

ds2 is 10 but is disabled so in many ways more like a 5yr old.

Whirliwig72 Mon 30-Jul-12 20:16:21

As a parent of boys I guess my worries are them being bullied or becoming bullies. Knife crime also scares the pants off me! My eldest (3.5) is showing some early signs of ADHD so I worry about how schools going to work out for him sad

peeriebear Mon 30-Jul-12 20:20:39

DD1 is almost 11 and to be honest, she has always been 'challenging' so nothing's different... It's still NOT FAIR that I ask her to pick her own toys and clothes up off the floor and it's NOT FAIR that I won't let her bike all the way down to the town park...

bigTillyMint Mon 30-Jul-12 20:35:24

Whirliwig, I have a tween boy. Please don't think it will be all gloom and doom - this is the best we've had it with DS so far smile

After being a very easy baby, he was what you might call a spirited child. Exhausting both physically , mentally and emotionally.
from the moment he started walking, he was sport-mad, very competitive, very chatty (but poor at listening) and challenging - he has been a teenager in his head for years. Very, very hard work, believe me! We had to be very consistent, firm but fair and attempt to remain calm in the heat of his explosive temper-tantrums.

But he is now 11 and is mature, responsible, more focused and still sport-mad and competitive but in a sporting way (captain of both his footy teams) and is looking forward to his new secondary school. I am hoping that this will continue wink

So I would say, make sure you put in the groundwork now!

Xroads Mon 30-Jul-12 20:51:10

My Dd1 will be 13 this week - eeeeek!!

To be honest I think we are very lucky, she hasn't got in with the wrong crowd, her school reports are brilliant, I never have to nag about homework or the state of her room (always immaculate) she bathes enough and takes a lot of pride in her appearance, she's polite (to other people, we have to remind her about manners/ attitude when she's talking to us and her sister) BUT BUT BUT

She was a stroppy, mardy, whingy, whiney, ungrateful nightmare from the age of 6/7 until she was nearly 12yrs, it started from when her baby sister was born and her hormones kicking in (was wearing deodorant at 7yrs) until christmas 2011 - I'd say the turning point was when we had a couple of weeks off over christmas, we were all poorly, our tolerance levels were low and then dd1 came down with it a few days after us, she spent a few days lay on the sofa not saying much and realised how much nicer/ calmer the house was without her playing us up so once we all recovered we stuck to our guns, clamped down hard and she has been really fab since then tbh, we still have to remind her sometimes.

I think the main thing is spending time to focus on each other as a family sometimes so you can re-connect, we recently went away on our first proper 2 weeks holiday and the difference in closeness/ the girls behaviour was amazing, now we can't wait to take them again smile

Whirliwig72 Tue 31-Jul-12 06:51:45

Thanks everyone - please keep your thought coming they are really interesting.

It's been on my mind lately that the way I parent over the next few years will be key in shaping DS1 as a person. it terrifies me tbh because I'm not sure I'm doing such a great job right now. Ds1 is 3 going on 13 and you have to fight with him about most things to get him to co-operate. I know I'm to blame for being too soft and lenient when he was a toddler grin He also does NOT listen and chatters constantly (and I mean non stop)!

lilolilmanchester Tue 31-Jul-12 07:38:30

Hi Whirliwig... gosh, you're planning ahead!! I've got older teenagers, and definitely haven't always got it right.

I came to the conclusion a while back that parenting tweens is not much different to parenting toddlers. Both age groups are dealing with the kind of growing up frustrations that lead to tantrums, only difference being with teenagers that it's hormone driven, goes on for longer, and they can slam doors louder!!! Just like any child, tweens need to be praised/thanked when they do things well. Sometimes I think we forget how young they are still. They also need firm rules and consistency. Hard not to get into slanging matches sometimes, but find it more effective often just to ignore their outbursts. I'd also say you need to choose your battles.

2sugarsandadog Tue 31-Jul-12 07:43:26

Different set of difficulties. No longer have to freeze school uniform before it's worn, but stroppiness replaces tantrums. As lil says, not much in it really. Except you now don't know what they're doing like you used to and can't go within a couple of miles of the school gate.

OddBoots Tue 31-Jul-12 07:43:43

I had stroppy toddlers and (mostly) delightful tweens - my ds turns 13 in just over a week so I've not done the teen thing yet but I'm holding on tight for a roller-coaster ride.

HecateHarshPants Tue 31-Jul-12 07:44:08

I wouldn't say it's easier or more difficult, just different. It's a whole other set of challenges that require careful consideration and planning grin How you are a parent to a 2 year old is totally different to how you are a parent to a 10 year old and totally different to how you are a parent to a 16 year old, etc etc

I think the hardest part when they are older is balancing their need for and right to some independence and decision making while keeping them safe and guiding them and knowing which decisions you still have to make for them.

No more chucking them over your shoulder and marching them down the road grin

ripsishere Tue 31-Jul-12 07:45:59

lilolil has it about right. I've an 11 YO DD who is a big fat mass of boiling hormones. One minute she has make up and a bra on, the next she's doing something with a teddy. She doesn't know what she wants, if she does, it changes in about 30 seconds.
I love her to death even though she drives me to distraction. TBF to her, she isn't as bad as she could be. We are moving to Malaysia at some point next month. She took that news in her stride thank goodness.

lilolilmanchester Tue 31-Jul-12 07:46:24

"Except you now don't know what they're doing like you used to and can't go within a couple of miles of the school gate" - 2sugars - couldn't agree more, just decided not to go down that route with OP yet who has a preschooler and seems anxious enough without scaring her witless!!!!

CeliaFate Tue 31-Jul-12 16:29:04

Whirligig, do not think ahead. Cherish the moment you are living in. Laugh, play and chat with your dc. Every new phase is challenging, but think "This too will pass".

DontEatTheVolesKids Wed 01-Aug-12 16:32:14

Fun, but weird, often maddening.
Sometimes I have the best laughs with 12yo & other times I could drop him off a cliff.
10yo is super clever, high achiever, super organised, very athletic, has a long list of negative things about her behaviour wise (details I won't share to protect her privacy).


I expect teen years will be the same but far more extreme, hugely bigger laughs, hugely bigger horrors.

It is really nice that I can leave them at home & go somewhere else for a few hours. Nice to have some freedom back.

Dancergirl Sat 11-Aug-12 16:27:48

My oldest dd is 11 and so far she has been a dream smile

She was an easy baby, toddler, young school child etc and now at 11 she is delightful company. She's in the throws of puberty so I keep waiting for her to change but I'm pleased to say that apart from the odd stroppy moment, she's a v easy child. It's lovely watching them become more independent and seeing their social lives develop.

My 9 year old, on the other hand is much more emotional which I suspect will be even worse once the hormones kick in!

randomfennel Sun 09-Sep-12 12:24:58

My tweenie dds (12.5 and 11) are, really, totally delightful these days. Much much easier and more pleasant company than as small children. 8yo is rapidly getting less stressy too.

I expect to be reduced to a haggard shadow of my current self when they all hit puberty at once, but my experience of tween parenting has been a lot easier than when they were younger. They can do things on their own but they are still really keen to have their parents around and still (haha) think I'm clever and sorted. Yes I know this will change but it hasn't yet.

My most demanding baby/toddler/preschooler is my easiest child now. Quite an incredible change.

madbengal Wed 12-Sep-12 16:18:13

Massive hormone rollercoaster that has abit of a haunted house never kow whats coming feel thrown in

1 minute my 11 yr old is all makeup and boyfriend next its barbie and colouring books it really is scary for me that she already has a bra and quite a big bust and her figure already looks older esp as she is tall

Boundaries get pushed more I would say now than when she was little and then there is the "but xyz mum lets her" whine or the strop with the "you NEVER let me do anything" or the backchat But all that normally happens when she has her period

So 3 weeks I have my normal cuddly weeone 1 week I have hell bitch that cant decide what she wants and argues over everything (roll on teens huh)

Ninjahobbit Sun 23-Sep-12 10:49:10

hmmm interesting reading, I have a 12yr old DS (birthday today) and DD who turns 11 start of december am already in the padded hidden room

MY DS has been a nightmare from 6 months old but then he does have ADHD so thats understandable and life was hell living with a taz Devil, it did make me stronger in my boundaries and discipline though so thats a good thing and I think a key point with toddlers is be firm and stick to boundaries/discipline, it defo helps later on. DS is alot better (especially with his medication) and we generally have a happy time, although Ive learned how to get him to do what I want done without major tantrums by using incentives with him.

My DD who is 'normal' has been a stroppy preteen from the age of 6, although that was once in a blue moon. Now each day can start off with her getting out of the wrong side of the bed and becomming 'difficult' for the full day or getting out and being a wonderfully nice person until she cant get what she wants. When she gets like that rather than have an agrument I just point out I will not have a conversation with her while she is in this mood. At the minute she wants a dog, and thats not happening (2DCs 3 cats, gerbil, guinnea pig and rat already) She seems to believe she will get one.

This could be fun!

nooka Thu 27-Sep-12 06:03:07

I have a 13 year old and a 12 year old and really most of the time they are lovely. dd was (for me anyway) a very difficult baby and then has really been a pleasure ever since. As a tween she has a very messy room, roller coaster relationships with her friends, and difficulties with her emotions at times especially in the last few months.

ds was a very easy baby (he came first - if it had been dd I don't think we would have had any other children!) but really struggled with impulse control and his temper from about 3ish or so, to the extent that school suggested he might be autistic. However as he's got older he's really come on in leaps and bounds, and is now a pretty happy level headed boy. We've not yet really had any tween/teen issues with him, although our tolerance may just be quite high!

I've enjoyed both my children more and more as they got older. I hope that's true for the next few years too!

meditrina Thu 27-Sep-12 07:11:00

The huge thing that happens (unless in middle school area) is the change between primary and secondary. You agonise about the choice. They just get on with it, but are very different creatures after their first few weeks in Big School.

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