Dr. Courtney Knapp

Child & Adolescent Psychologist Serving Orange County, California

Parenting Tweens


I find a lot of parents struggle to parent their tweens who have “bad attitudes”, are “disrespectful”, and “emotional”.  A great article from parenting.com discusses ways to parent your tween.  The article states that with cell phones and other technologies tweens are developing closer bonds with their peer groups and, as a result, pushing away from their parents at earlier ages and with adolescence looming, kids naturally feel compelled to start going their own way.  Boys and girls tend to act out differently. “Girls get dramatic and overreact, while boys alternate between withdrawing and being defiant,” says Lowry.

The article offers 7 helpful tips on how to parent your tween.  

  1. maintain your parental status, this is not the time to become your  child’s friend.
  2. draw clear lines in the sand, you’ll need to come up with some new rules based on what’s most important to you, like right and wrong, honesty, and grades, and let go of stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run like keeping his room neat or eye rolling  Communicate as clearly and as calmly as you can as soon as any unacceptable behavior begins.
  3. choose a tween-appropriate punishment for infractions, like taking away video games or cell phones and it is important to follow through once you’ve set the consequence.
  4. reciprocate respect, remember that respect is a two-way street-especially when you start to get caught up in an emotionally charged argument and that it’s okay to apologize for mistakes you make as a parent.
  5. Let her stew When a “discussion” between you and your tween leads to screaming, step back and wait for things to calm down. Encouraging your child to take a break from a situation is a good way to defuse high emotions all around.
  6. set aside some face time, take your tween out for breakfast or invite him along to walk the dog, just the two of you. Don’t push an agenda, but do let your child lead the conversation. Along the same vein, be ready to talk when your tween needs to. Ultimately, experts point out, your tween will continue to come to you if he knows you’re likely to listen to him without jumping in to judge unimportant details.
  7. fan the home fires, as much as your child wants/needs to begin separating from Mom and Dad, he’s still a kid and wants/needs to have a safety net. For example designating one night a week as “Family Night, ” meaning no friends, no activities, no computers, no texting, no video games.

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