Yes, your tweens are very young (9 to 12) but nonetheless they have very tender feelings. Even I can remember when I was 10 years old and had a breakup. I thought that I would never recover. And, it wasn't like my "boyfriend" and I ever did anything more than have a few conversations. Nonetheless, I was even more devastated when he asked out my good friend Andrea the next week and she said yes. I had to pretend to be happy for her. Yikes. I don't know how I did that. I was pretty shaken up. Look at how well I still remember the details of that event. And, I won't tell you how many years ago that was. Well, I eventually moved on and things worked out. It was a little shaky there for a bit.
So, that's my story. Now let's talk about your tweens. The
definition of going out with someone or dating varies from tween to tween. It
can range from simply texting each other occasionally to actually spending time
together. My suggestion, though, is to treat their going out and subsequent
breakup gently no matter what the relationship was like. To your tween it was
probably very meaningful as a first experience. It can be hard on them whether
they did the breaking up or if they got broken up with.
I have several tips to make this a positive and supportive
experience for you and your tween. Keep in mind, that I am concerned about
the feelings of the boys and the girls. Remember that I learned about these
tips in my role as a mother to a tween as well as in my role as a psychologist working with tweens and their parents for years.
1. Validate your tween's feelings. If your tween is upset, say something like, "I can understand why you feel so sad" instead of "You'll forget about him in a few days." Even
though you are trying to make your tween feel better with the second comment, it
will be seen as dismissive. Your tween will then stop talking to you and think
that you just don't get it. We should let our kids know that we do get it and were
tweens once. Relationship breakups hurt at every age, correct?
2. Listen very hard
to your tween when she or he wants to talk about the situation. I can assure
you that they don't want you to interrupt or to provide suggestions. They all
tell me that they just want to vent and talk to someone who loves them enough
to just listen. Think about who you call as an adult when you are distressed.
Sometimes it is your parents, right? And often you just want them to listen, not
to provide solutions. Also right?
3. Do not, under any circumstances, devalue or criticize the
former boyfriend or girlfriend. Your tween will run screaming from the room or
engage in some other display of frustration. Putting down the former crush is
like putting down your tween. At least, that is how the tween mind works.
4. Try to do something SPECIAL with your tween. Everyone loves
and appreciates a little tender loving care when they are sad. Maybe do
something distracting like go for a manicure, a walk, or even cook their
5. Maintain your tween's CONFIDENTIALITY. Do not get on the
phone and tell your friends about the break-up. Your friends may then tell
their own kids and your child will be upset and feel betrayed. S/he might even
feel ashamed. You certainly don't want to make this faux pas. I have seen the
fallout resulting from this kind of over-sharing of information, and it is never helpful.
6. Just keep loving your tween. When they are rejected or
are rejecting someone, they need to know that the whole world is not upset with