My oldest is turning 10 in a few weeks – and is starting to act more like a “teen” than a “tween”. Recently, he’s been showing his need to separate himself from “the babies” as he continues to form his own identity through his peer relationships, style, interests and the way he interacts with not only his little brothers, but us, too. While it’s frustrating and difficult for the younger kids to understand, I know this is part of him growing up and it’s going to happen no matter what.
I know his friend’s are a big influence on his interests at the moment, but I still do my part to research and educate myself on what is going on in the tween/teen world and will always offer up options, suggestions and solutions that not only fit his needs and stages of development, but things that prove to be a good influence for his younger brothers as well.
Music and online computer or video games are the things I refuse budge on. When it comes to music, I prefer to keep it light and whimsical, but that’s not a reality when your child is exposed to different music choices and restrictions at school and while at a friends’ house. There’s a lot of good music out right now – music that my kids and I like. But lyrics and innuendoes don’t fly well with me. I don’t feel as if it’s appropriate for my kids as they’re all at very influential ages and stages right now. And don’t even get me started on MindCraft.
One of the hardest things for parents to admit is the lack of encouragement and recognition that happens with older children. With large families, parents can get caught up and focused on the younger children with their first day of preschool, frequent temper tantrums and ever-changing milestones, it’s easy to forget the older child still needs the praise, encouragement and recognition. Even at 10, I know my son views the negative attention (tantrums) that his brothers receive as a form of attention. Then imagine having a little brother with special needs… I still like to write on his lunch napkin, I make a first day of school encouragement card, and need to make it a point to take him out for dinner or ice cream and talk about his day, connect and just be together. Keeping the lines of communication open and positive to establish and/or build upon a strong and trusting bond is so important for tweens.
One of the hardest things I’ve dealt with this year is resisting my fears and not portraying or letting my fears get in the way of his time, choices and preferences. He’s becoming interested in skateboarding, football and riding dirt bikes (while at a friend’s house of all places). Basically everything I cringe at and all things that make me want to say “absolutely not”, but I digress. And then turn and cringe.
WHAT MY TWEEN/TEEN IS LOVING THIS YEAR
A big part of him separating himself (or trying to at least separate his identity) from his younger siblings is through his personal choices. He has become more involved in the decision process of what he wants to wear, what he wants to play with and what he wants to listen to. Something I thought might happen, but wasn’t sure to what extent — because he has always been pretty easy-going about his personal items and generally likes what I have picked in the past. It’s only now that I notice him change his clothes before leaving the house or secretly avoid wearing a certain pair of shorts or pants. And when I ask him, he does a little dance around the conversation, but I think part of it is he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings and the other part is he didn’t think to bring it up.
I’ve included my oldest in a lot of this year’s back-to-school prep and purchasing decisions. Here are some things that he loves this year… And hopefully this proves to be helpful when offering your tween some choices, too.
The ClassMate Wheeled Backpack (Lands’ End, $80) is practical, has teen-approved style and secretly makes me feel better about his back and the amount of stuff he’ll be carting to and from school this year.
I finally caved and got the HX2 Stingray shoes (Heelys, $60). He has been coveting a pair of Heelys for years (Do you see that? Mama Bear is learning to let go) and I’m actually okay with them because the wheels can be removed for school, but he can have fun with them after school and on the weekends. Hey, it promotes balance, right? And he’s my kid, so he could use all the help he can get in that department.
We listen to a lot of Kidz Bop these days (because of the little guys) and my oldest actually enjoys it, which is great because he doesn’t really have much of a choice. There are word changes (even though some words, like stupid, remain) and no, it’s not the original artist (as one of my 10-year-old son’s friends not-so-gracefully pointed out while in the car with my two little ones around), but it’s as close as we’re going to get to the real thing. And we like it… And I prefer it that way.