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10 Tools for Dealing With Tween Stress

Preteens are feeling the pressure. Here's how to help them

No longer little kids and not yet teens, children between the ages of 9 and 12 are feeling their own particular stress. This period is fraught with its own worries, as tweens grapple with balancing more schoolwork and increasing social pressures. During these tween years, kids become increasingly self-conscious and more likely to compare themselves to peers. This is because they're trying to figure out both who they are and how they measure up to their fellow tweens.

Consider as well that tweens are beginning to experience hormonal and other bodily changes. This is no small thing. During these years, they often go through an "awkward stage" physically as their body parts develop at different rates. As if these stressors aren't enough, let's factor in yet another one. During the ages of 9 and 12, tweens begin to think about the world, including themselves, their social relationships and their identity, on a more abstract and complicated level.

So, yes, I believe we can all agree that the stressors tweens are dealing with can be overwhelming, as they struggle with success and failure and social acceptance and rejection. The good news is that there are many things parents can do to help their kids deal with this stressful period in a more effective manner, and I can to clue you in on how to make these years easier.

Make sure your tweens are getting enough rest and eating properly. These are always the first things I ask about when parents tell me their child has become increasingly irritable for no apparent reason. None of us at any age can deal with pressure effectively if we're exhausted and hungry. Consider an 11-year-old girl who has started playing a new sport. This is a case where the child might need more rest and some healthy snacks in her backpack.

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Ensure there's a balance. The importance of ensuring balance in a tween’s life cannot be stressed enough. As the schoolwork demands increase, your child needs time to not only study but also to play and exercise. Sit down with your child and come up with a well-balanced schedule that includes all three of these important aspects of life.

Make sure your child is selecting sports and activities that she is interested in rather than ones that suit you alone. I have seen too many instances of parents forcing activities on their child because they thought it was good for them without getting the child’s input. This is clearly a recipe for unhappiness, frustration and resentment.

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