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When Your Tween Rejects You

Your tween’s embarrassed to be seen with you, criticizes what you do and say, and you can forget about any more public displays of affection. What’s going on? Isn’t this “Mom you’re so uncool” phase supposed to start in the teens, not at the tender age of 10 or 11?

Actually, experts say that your fall from grace is right on schedule.

Kids typically start to become annoyed by their parents around age 10-and-a-half because this is when “we see neurological changes in the brain,” explains Stephanie Mihalas, a child psychologist in Los Angeles. Tweens begin to make judgments about other people and for the first time realize that others are judging them, which fills them with anxiety and uncertainty. Flooding hormones and chagrin over their changing bodies magnify these painful feelings.

This self-consciousness isn’t limited to just themselves, however, but extends to their family, says Mihalas. So traits your pre-teen used to love about you—your corny jokes or vintage wardrobe—suddenly become a source of possible humiliation.

The tween years are also the beginning of the long, slow separation your child must make from you in order to one day become a functioning adult, says Fran Walfish, child and family psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent. Along the pathway to independence, most pre-teens by necessity will at least occasionally reject their parents.

Check out These Six Strategies for Surviving Your Tween's New Attitude:

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