A lot of parents long for the days when THEIR BABIES and toddlers are old enough to do things for themselves. When the butt-wiping and crying are a thing of the past.
And while these times certainly do come, what doesn’t get a lot of exposure is how short that glorious golden period can seem. Because before you know it, your happy little kid becomes a pre-teen and oftentimes, you find your parenting life in turmoil again. Only this time, the kid and the problems are much bigger.
These are the truths of raising preteen girls:
They have an opinion about everything
You think negotiating with a toddler is hard? Then you probably don’t have a preteen daughter. I’ve got both and my two-year-old has nothing on my ten-year-old in the opinions department. My daughter will tell you that she doesn’t feel strongly about anything, but the reality is, she has an opinion about every tiny little thing, and is very willing and eager to share it. Even when you don’t ask.
They start to develop their own sense of style
My daughters have picked their own outfits since they were preschool aged, but I usually did most of the shopping and deciding what made it into their closets. But as they started approaching the PRETEEN YEARS, that dynamic changed and now I’m really only useful for approving purchases and plopping down the credit card.
And they don’t always pick the things that I would (flowy florals and bright neons have never been my personal preference) but I also know that it’s not a battle that needs to be won, so long as their choices are age-appropriate, I’ve learned to roll with it.
You’re no longer number one
For approximately the first decade of your daughter’s life, you’ll likely be the most important person to her. Your daughter will rely on you for everything from basic survival to comfort and reassurance. She’ll come to you when she’s hurt or upset and look to you for the answers to all of life’s problems.
But once those preteen years hit, you’ll quickly learn that you are really not as awesome as your daughter had you believing all the years before. You know who is awesome, though? Every other kid her age, who have also all abandoned their need for parental guidance and think they can do it all by themselves.
The big emotions start to kick in
I thought my kids were emotionally unruly people as tired TODDLERS, but once again, my preteen beats her little brother in the moodiness department every time of the day. The preteen years are when puberty starts to happen and between the big physical changes which can be seen and the hormones that can’t, the emotions become bigger and scarier, for both you.
There’s a lot of anger and frustration and unexplained sadness. She won’t understand everything she’s feeling and you won’t know what’s happening which can make you both want to cry. A lot.
They desperately want freedom
By the preteen years, most kids think they know everything. They don’t see a big difference between themselves and adults, but they know they’re vastly different from younger kids. They’ll begin to think they should be able to do pretty much everything on their own without help or supervision.
Except, preteens are still developing their problem-solving and decision making skills and still lack the life experience needed to appropriately and safely manage themselves in mature situations. But have fun explaining that to a preteen girl.
Yet, they still want to be little kids, too
The often used term “tween” stems from the idea of being in a state of in-between. They’re no longer small kids who need constant supervision but they’re also not yet teens who can mostly care for themselves. And this time can be confusing for girls as they outgrow the things they used to love like dolls, sparkly unicorns and princesses and start to feel cultural pressure to become interested in more mature things like makeup, social media and boys.
And while they long for independence, they certainly don’t want any responsibility which makes getting them to help out around the house or complete necessary life tasks independently nearly impossible.
They’re easier to hang out with
But one perk of the preteen years is that girls become easier to hang out with and can sometimes actually feel like more of a close girlfriend than your daughter. They’re old enough to sit around at a coffee shop and have actual conversations with.
You can take them more places without worrying about how they’re going to behave or bother and it’s a lot of fun to sit with them and watch their individual personalities emerge as they engage in more mature conversations and begin to develop and share passions and interests all their own.
So, if you have a pre-teen girl, don’t worry. These behaviors are normal – and we’ll survive it one way or another.