What are signs that your children are entering pre-adolescence?
“Mom, if you want to kiss goodbye, please just do it here,” a 10-year-old girl says as she gets ready to exit the car before school. Her mother is confused. It’s almost like tradition for her to take her daughter to the building, to kiss her goodbye and part from there.
If you are the parent of this girl, your reaction may be within the extremes of “Alright, big girl,” and “What have I done wrong?” Fortunately, this phenomenon is normal. When your children begin to slightly distance themselves like this, or become embarrassed by you, it could be that they are becoming ‘tweens’, formally known as pre-adolescence.
When does pre-adolescence begin?
Pre-adolescence is the stage of development between being a child and being a teenager. It can be confused with puberty, but for the sake of our discussion, puberty is one of the later stages of pre-adolesence as a child’s physiology undergoes dramatic changes.
Pre-adolescence can begin as early as 9 years old in both boys and girls. A major sign that your children are entering pre-adolescence is a change in attitude and/or behavior. At this stage, they don’t just become smarter or aware of complex and abstract details. They also begin to question some of the rules or beliefs that they held as younger children.
How should you treat your pre-adolescent children?
You already know how to treat young adults and teenagers. It may just seem awkward at first to change your attitude towards a child who used to be small, fragile, carefree and slightly gullible. You may still retain your old habit of treating your child like a little kid. Your child may show slight irritation or embarrassment in response, so it’s best to adopt a new attitude towards your child.
Treating your children as almost-adults also means that you should be prepared to answer a barrage of questions about why they should follow certain rules. Manageable clashes and arguments are healthy signs of growth.
At this stage, most children understand the golden rule, as written in Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” They will begin to use other people as role models, so if you treat them with respect, no matter how out of control a conflict may seem, one day they will come around and treat you with respect as well.
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