"But Jenny's mom lets her do that." The problem? Jenny is 16 and your daughter is only 11. What happens when tweens think they are equivalent to teens? It's very common since kids between 8-12 years of age are able to do many things on their own. Because they can physically act upon things and make choices, many tweens tend to think this means they should be allowed. The problem with this is that there are certain things they simply should not be doing until they are older.
Older siblings can play a role both directly and indirectly. Observing an older sister or brother with more privileges may seem unfair to your tween. Be sure your older kids aren't teasing about their extra privileges. It's also important to make it clear that there are certain age requirements, depending on each new venture in life. If you have more than one child, you need to be consistent with the age a child must be before being allowed to do certain things, such as dating, babysitting, and handling other responsibilities.
Kids with younger siblings may mature quickly. Tweens will naturally look up to their teen siblings. Most kids want to be just like their big sister or big brother. This is a healthy phenomenon and can help kids learn important life lessons. But it can also backfire at times. Sometimes kids want to be entirely too much like their older siblings and mature faster than we'd like them to. To prevent this from happening, I try to make sure each of my kids has their own separate interests they pursue. Sometimes the distraction of their own unique activities can deter thoughts of participating in things meant for the older kids.
Peer pressure may be to blame. Not all parents agree on what is and isn't appropriate at various ages and stages. When tweens see their friends doing things they cannot do, they suddenly want to do them even more. Peer pressure is often a steady battle throughout the tween and teenage years. To help combat it as much as possible, parents can teach their tweens the value of self-worth and how important it is to remain true to oneself. Teaching tweens to make smart choices based on analysis, rather than quick-thinking and pressure to be like everyone else, is important.
Observing child stars may give off mixed messages. Watching the way stars behave on television, in movies, and even in real life can give kids a clouded perception of what life should be like. Naturally, they will want to have and do the things they see in these kids. As a parent, it's important to let kids know the difference between reality and film. It's also important they know the difference between a star's life and an everyday person's life. Let them know that the fraction of star's lives we see is not always a good indicator of how they actually live. Some things could be skewed for ratings, photos can be airbrushed, and we don't see how they live behind closed doors. Kids need to know that behind all the glamor, stars are just people, like you and me.
Your tween likely looks up to you. Just as your tween may look up to older siblings and friends, he also may look up to you. Obviously, your tween cannot do everything that you do. However, that may not stop her from wanting to. You can allow your tween to participate in certain things with you and let him know why he cannot do the others. For instance, let him wear your clothes if they fit. Take him to work on "Take Your Kids to Work Day". Have Mom and Daughter or Dad and Son days. At the same time, encourage your tween to be himself as well.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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