Yes, You Should Be Your Kid’s Friend :: 10 Ways to Bond with Tweens

Having twin girl “tweens” makes me weep like a baby on a fairly regular basis. Moms, you feel me here, right? Tweens are changing, and although they are still the sweet, funny, gentle girls they’ve always been, they’ve also perfected their eye-rolls, slamming doors, aggressive stomping and….OMG, the yelling. These girls want to be HEARD, that’s for sure. So, keeping this in mind, there are a few tips I have for keeping close to your tween girl:  

How to Bond with a Tween

Put Yourself In Their Shoes.

Being a tween is hard, and you know this because you were one, too. Remember how hard it was with friends, wanting to fit in, wondering if your pants were rolled just so or if it seemed like you were trying too hard? Girls feel loved and important when they are included, but this is the age that friend drama and self-doubt creep in. Girls no longer feel good about their bodies, and they wonder if they measure up.

Nurture the Relationship.

Remember that sweet, cuddly, lovable little girl-muffin that used to crawl into your lap and let you rub her hair? She’s still there, she’s just rolling her eyes while you talk to her. Imagine that sweet little chub standing in front of you during the tough times, and that she is only momentarily taken over by aliens. This will help us love them fully, anyway. I’m not implying you don’t love your tween. I’m suggesting that it’s really, really hard to show how much you adore that little munchkin when she’s treating you like you’re the alien in the home, not her. Nurture your relationship with your tween by treating her as if, because I promise, that little girl is still there, and she needs you.

Be Their Friend (They and Their Anxiety Need You).

When I hear moms tell me, “I’m not their friend, I’m their mom,” that’s the biggest bunch of smelly poop I’ve ever heard. Get ready for some real challenges if that’s the case, Mom! Know why? Because you should be your child’s friend. You were the first one they ever had, and you’ll be their friend forever if you play your cards right. Be a good listener, provide warm hugs, and be someone that’s always hovering. She still needs you.

Be Available.

It seems like you’re tween girl doesn’t want much to do with you these days; I get it. However, your presence is important. Go chill near them (or on their bed), and be non-judgmental about what they’re doing. Like, “Hey, what’s up?” Sometimes you’ll get an eye roll, but sometimes, they will start talking about random things or people, and BAM, you’ve won the golden ticket. Those times don’t come often, but they won’t come at all if you aren’t available.

Watch YouTube With Them.

When you’re with them, and they randomly want to show you the weirdest or most boring YouTube video about something that is bizarre and strange, love the heck out of that video! It’s the “in thing” right now, and yes, I appreciate parental controls (that’s for another post), but because they love it so much, you should love it, too. It’s a way to get inside your tween girl’s world.

Talk About The the Hard Stuff.

When they do begin to open up, resist the urge to parent. You can’t earn your Mom Street Cred by always being an advice-giver. Being a listener is the absolute best way to win your tween girl’s heart. In those available moments, ask about their friends, the mean girls, the lunch table, the people on the bus, and gym class. Inherent in these conversations will be talk about body image, sex, and friends. Stay calm, Mom, you’ve got this!

Schedule Family Dates.

My tweens happen to LOVE these family times, so we take full advantage of them. Make fun time together as a family. Movies with popcorn and M&Ms, game night, or bowling is always a treat!

Engage in One-On-One Activities.

Take your girl on a date! Go get a pedicure, take a cooking class, or go to Starbucks together for some coffee talk. Bake her favorite treat and take her shopping at her favorite store. (And for these excursions, I mean 12 noon. She is a tween; who are we trying to kid here?)

Share Books.

If your tween loves to read, find a series you both love. One of my tweens and I happen to love the same genre of book (I can thank her favorite English teacher for this!), so I can actually suggest books to my girl. Then, we talk about them. “Oh my gosh, can you believe ___ happened. What did you think about ___? What do you think will happen when ___.” These are bonding moments! I’ll take them.

Do Home Facials Together.

Look, their skin is changing and they hate it. Use this time to do home facials together, try new creams, and experiment with new toners. Remind your girl that your skin went through the same changes at their age, and that you can try lots of different things to try to get it back in shape. And, this is another bonding moment, Mom! Bask in it.

Your tween girl needs you, and you’ll find some great ways to get into their inner world here. 

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan
Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby. By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps). Jennifer is a mom of twins who are sweet as sugar, but just hit that tween stage so all bets are off. Her youngest is...a joy. Let's just stop there. Most days you can find her in her office seeing clients, doing laundry, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or catching up on the latest episode of Real Housewives of (Insert City Here), Walking Dead or This Is Us. She is a tree-hugging country girl from West Texas who reads, writes, and teaches about human development and families as a hobby and profession. You can read more from Jennifer at her therapy blog, ichoosechange.com

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