Terrible Twelves

Last week, I mentioned that there are three difficult ages of children; two, twelve, and twenty-two, and elaborated on the twos. This week, I'll focus on the twelves. Some people call in the tweens, a very good description of this age, especially girls.

Just as the two year old toddler throws a tantrum because he is frustrated and wants to be independent, the older twelve year old is going through similiar feelings. She is not a little kid anymore, but not quite a teenager either. Her body is beginning to change and with it her emotions. Often premenstration mood swings start at this age.

One day she may still play with dolls or crawl into her daddy's lap; the next day tries a new hairstyle and talks about the cute boy at school. She may think her brothers are disgusting, but wants to learn how to bake a pie. She wants to be spoiled with the attention of younger child, but also doesn't wanted to be thought of as a baby. She doesn't know who she is and may explode with outbursts for no apparent reason.

She maybe too old for a spank and a time-out chair, but teach her to recognize the times when she feels irritable, so that she can take a walk or swing in the backyard or be alone somewhere. Although she may resist the control of your authority, deep down she wants the security of knowing that you care. She may say that you're mean and don't understand her, but she deep down she's glad someone is there to listen.

As a parent, patient firmness is again needed. You can help her get through this. She wants a voice in decisions concerning her, and you can let her choose some things. Let her redecorate her room, let her arrange her hair, let her pack her own lunch. Some of her choices may irk you, but don't let the little things become big things. Ask yourself if the battle is over opinions or issues of right and wrong.

Some choices need to be controlled until she is older; clothes, music, books, movies, etc. She is still learning and you are still the authority, but you can give her a choice of a certain style or store. Catalogs are good. You can say, "You may choose from the things that I have marked." It's a meeting ground, a step toward her becoming an adult.

Bedtime is another thing that can be adjusted. Twelve year olds think they are too old to go to bed with the little kids, but they still needs their rest. (And you need a down time for yourself) We still had them go to their room at 8:00, but they were allowed to read quietly for one hour before lights out. It worked well. They felt more grown up and also enjoyed many good books. They even began looking for good books to read at night.

Your little girl still needs to be cuddled and babied at times; she's not an adult yet. She needs prayer and guidance. She needs your example and consistency. God gave us our children to care for, to guide, to love, for a few years. We need to hold them with open hands. They really belong to God. We need to gradually let go, let them grow up and let God guide them.

1 comment:

Joanne Sher said...

I remember being just like this when I was in my 'tweens. :) Still have several years to go until I get to this point, but I know having this wisdom will be VERY helpful. Thanks so much for sharing it!


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