Obviously, every kid is different, and every kid responds to things in his or her own unique way. But we still have a few general pieces of advice on connecting with your tween.
- Get tech-savvy: You need to know what your child is up to online. It's imperative for his or her cyber-safety. But being verse in the latest Internet fads and newfangled gadgets also makes you cooler in the eyes of your child. And if you're not tech-savvy, ask your tween to show you how his or her favorite online games or cell phone applications work. Because…
- Kids love being the authority, so let them tell you what's cool: Your tween likes nothing more than to be able to teach you about the things he or she likes. Whether it be a few hours where you learn everything there is to know about Pokemon, or a long and impassioned monologue about the finer points of the "Twilight" saga, tweens are thrilled to be able to talk about things where they're the subject matter expert.
- Allow freedoms … gradually: As your tween gets older, he or she will start pressuring you about more privacy, wanting to hang out with friends more than family, picking out his or her own clothes, and other such things. Give her some freedoms, but not all at once. For each freedom you allow (skipping family game night to go to the movies with a friend), add a responsibility to match (unloading the dishwasher).
- Share a hobby: Your tween should have his or her own interests, but try to cultivate a common interest -- something only the two of you share. Perhaps your son enjoys cooking. The two of you could take a class together, or go out to eat twice a month and rate the restaurants together. Or maybe your daughter loves cats. Think about volunteering together at a local animal shelter.
One thing all tweens want? Their own space. Keep reading and check out our ideas on helping your tween have the coolest room in the neighborhood.