A tween is any child between the ages of around 8-14 years old. Making sure your tween is healthy will ensure they grow up to be well rounded, responsible teens and adults. Children of this age can be exposed to many things thanks to the TV and the internet, and in turn this can fill them with false, negative beliefs. They may get depressed, they may start acting out – they may not even do anything to let you know that they are not OK. Look for these signs to give you an idea of whether your tween is healthy or not:
Noticing Changes in Behaviour
Your tween will always display some changes in behaviour, even if they are healthy. Many of them will spend hours on the phone or computer, stay out more, and probably have little interest in spending as much time with the family. Rest assured that this is normal. It’s only when these behaviours seem extreme and they become very secretive should you begin to worry. Monitor changes in behaviour. Only you know your tween best, so only you know if you’re overreacting or if something needs to be done.
[Photo courtesy of Varisara Tangthanakul/flickr.com]
Changes In Mood
Again, there are going to be changes in mood. They will have mood swings, seem irritable, and even sad at times. It’s all part of growing up. However, these swings shouldn’t last very long. A few days at most. If it seems that they are sad, anxious, or depressed more often than not, then you should seek help for them. Depression in tween girls and boys is as real as it is in adults, so make sure you don’t ignore the signs.
[Photo courtesy of Paul De Los Reyes/flickr.com]
Knowing How To Handle It
Knowing how to handle the changes in your tween is important. It can be sensitive, especially if you think they may be depressed or anxious. But you need to sort it out as quickly as you can to avoid problems in the future. When speaking to them, you must always speak in a calm voice. Only ever say what you mean, and be prepared to listen to what they are really saying to you. Don’t interrupt them. You definitely shouldn’t use sarcasm or anything that could turn the situation into a huge argument. At the end of the day, you’re on their side. Act like you’re on the same team. Have a discussion rather than an argument and lecturing your teen. If you know they have been smoking or drinking, for instance, try not to overreact. It can be shocking, but this is something many tweens do and get over quickly. If your tween is self medicating in other ways or even has an eating disorder of some kind, it can be even harder to handle. You need to be sensitive and let them know you’re there for them. Having an intervention and getting professional help at a time like this could be a smart move.
Is your tween healthy? You know your tween better than anybody, so use your best judgement when working out what to do.