Your middle grader lets you into her world one minute, then seems to put up a “Keep Out” sign the next. She needs you—butatthesametime,she’s pushing away to figure out who she is and to become more independent. Try these ideas for handling classic “now I need you, now I don’t” tween behavior.
Challenge: Your child no longer tells you all about her life.
Solution: Instead of pressing her for information, wait until she’s in the mood to chat. If she opens up as you’re heading to bed, consider staying up longer. Then, listen closely instead of immediately offering your opinion or ways to fix problems.
Challenge: Your tween spends more time with friends and less time with family.
Solution: It’s normal for her to want to be with friends. To encourage family time, look for opportunities that appeal to her. Maybe you’ll have breakfast together on weekdays or let her do your nails after she does hers.
Challenge: Your middle grader is embarrassed by whatever you do.
Solution: At this age, children want to fit in and are sensitive to what their peers think. Try not to take it personally, and remember that she’ll outgrow it. In the meantime, notice what embarrasses your tween, and work around it if possible. For instance, if she doesn’t like you hugging her good-bye in front of others, you might say “Love you” and walk away.