Ep 284: Understanding Your Tween: The Journey of Growth

Tanith Carey, author of What's My Tween Thinking?, returns to discuss the distinct challenges and opportunities of parenting tweens, focusing on identity development, handling changing family dynamics, navigating peer influence, and fostering emotional awareness and introspection in 8 to 12-year-olds.

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Full Show Notes

As parents, witnessing our child morph from a carefree kid into a tween can sometimes feel like navigating uncharted waters. The tween years, traditionally seen as a quiet phase before the storm of the teenage years, are now understood to be a crucial period of identity development and emotional growth. It's a time when children start to question their place in the world, develop deeper peer relationships, and often begin to seek independence from their families.

This week on Talking to Teens, we’re joined by Tanith Carey, a renowned author and educator known for her insightful books on parenting, including the highly-praised What's My Tween Thinking?. Tanith offers her expertise to unravel the complex emotional landscape of tweens and provides practical advice for guiding them through this pivotal stage.

Identity Exploration and Peer Influence

The tween years are marked by a significant exploration of identity. Tanith explains that as children move through this phase, they start to compare themselves to their peers, which can lead to new insecurities and doubts. The establishment of more defined friendship groups also introduces tweens to the complexities of social hierarchies and conflicts. Tanith stresses the importance of preparing tweens for these experiences by discussing the broader picture, helping them understand the nature of social dynamics and encouraging self-reflection and emotional awareness.

Navigating Family Dynamics and Independence

As tweens seek more independence, family dynamics can shift dramatically. Tanith shares how parents can manage these changes, from the tween's desire for private space to their evolving way of relating to family members. She emphasizes respect for the tween's growing need for autonomy while maintaining open lines of communication and connection.

Tackling Tough Topics and Social Media Influence

Tanith and Andy dive into some of the more challenging aspects of parenting tweens, including handling exposure to negative societal messages and navigating the digital landscape. Tanith offers advice on discussing sensitive topics like appearance, peer pressure, and the impact of social media, highlighting the importance of encouraging tweens to critically evaluate the messages they receive and to develop a strong sense of self-awareness.

Encouraging Emotional Awareness and Introspection

One of the key themes throughout the episode is the importance of fostering emotional awareness and introspection in tweens. Tanith shares strategies for helping tweens tune into their feelings and bodily sensations as a way of understanding their emotions, making healthier choices, and developing resilience. This focus on introspection is particularly vital in an age dominated by digital distractions and societal pressures.

In the Episode…

Apart from the topics mentioned above, Tanith and Andy also discuss:  
- The implications of early puberty and the impact on tweens' self-image.  
- Strategies for encouraging open discussions about difficult topics, including misogyny and consent.  
- The importance of modeling healthy emotional regulation and empathy.  
- Ways to support tweens in finding their "spark" or passion.  
- Techniques for balancing screen time with real-world activities and social interactions.

Tanith Carey's work provides invaluable insights into the tween mind, offering practical tips and compassionate guidance for parents navigating these formative years. Her evidence-based approach emphasizes the importance of understanding, communication, and emotional intelligence in fostering healthy development and strong parent-tween relationships.

Don’t miss this enlightening conversation on what it means to parent a tween in today's world. Tune in to learn more about how you can support your tween’s journey of self-discovery and emotional growth. Subscribe to the Talking to Teens podcast for more expert advice on the art and science of parenting teenagers.

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Tanith Carey
Tanith Carey
Author 13 books on psychology/parenting in 35 languages: 'Feeling Blah?', What's My Child/Teen Thinking?', The Friendship Maze", Taming The Tiger Parent'
Ep 284: Understanding Your Tween: The Journey of Growth
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