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Parenting Tweens: Inside the Mind of Your Tween Daughter

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Your tween daughter is stuck between two worlds—she’s not a little girl any longer, but she’s also not an official teen. She’s somewhere in the middle of I love you, Mommy and Mom, I’ve got this. Even if your tween hasn’t started maturing physically yet, what’s going on in her mind is usually ahead of that area’s development, thanks to the things she’s exposed to earlier and earlier all around her.

But you don’t have to let the fact that you can’t read her mind keep you from trying to understand what’s  going on in her head. It’s important to know. So we actually asked some tween girls what they think about, and these are the 5 things that might be going on inside the mind of your tween daughter that they shared with us.

1. “Do the cool people like me?”

To arrive at the ultimate destination of self-confidence, tween girls, unfortunately, have to slog through periods of self-doubt and self-consciousness. It’s no longer enough to be nice or a good student, the drive to be part of the “in crowd” often hits high gear when a girl is in 5th or 6th grade. So be there for your daughter as much as you can as she experiences the ups and downs of trying to get the “right” people to like her. And as much as she might roll her eyes when you tell her that it’s best to stay true to who she is, keep telling her. But also listen more than you talk when she does open up to you.

In their book, What Your Daughter Isn’t Telling You, the authors advise moms not to continuously “offer your opinion unless she asks for it. Many teen girls stop talking to their moms,” they say, “because every time they do talk, they get a lecture when all they wanted was to talk.”

2. “What should my Instagram caption be?”

The social media world is THE world for tween girls. They put themselves out in public view via social media longing for approval from their friends and people they don’t even know. This often comes in the form of the number of likes they get on a post on Instagram or other sharing sites. I have heard girls express joy or sadness based on how many people responded to or commented on their posts.

To spare your daughter these up and down feelings, you might want to consider not letting her post selfies or limit her use of iffy sites like Snapchat. And, our Social Media Contract for Kids printable will help you set guidelines.

3. “Wow! Mascara does look good on me!”

You and I both know that tween girls don’t need makeup at all—they’re beautiful without it. But experimenting with makeup is one of the 5 Rites of Passage for Girls. So if your tween daughter wants to play with makeup or even wear a tiny bit of makeup in public, you might want to teach her how to do it well. Better to know how to apply makeup so that it enhances her natural beauty without taking it over.

And, wanting to use makeup goes hand-in-hand with her concern with overall body self-image. At this point in her life, you should never talk about dieting, her “baby fat,” or over do the healthy eating healthy exercise talk. Acceptance is what she needs most.

4. “There are like ten different boys that I think are cute.”

Yes, boys matter to most tween girls. So be open to talking with your daughter about boys and try to keep it casual. Most of all, don’t make fun of her interest or tease her about her “boyfriend.” You’ll also want to take a look at the Pros and Cons of Middle School Romance.

And remember that tween boys have no clue about the boy/girl world, so make sure your daughter knows that most boys are modeling the macho talk they hear around them. You’ll also want to foster a good relationship between your daughter and her father. A solid relationship there will help

5. “Man! I really stink at …..!”

The influence of our success-based culture has made its way down to the tween set. Whether it’s being a great athlete, a vocalist, or a scholar, the YouTube world has made girls feel like they need to be great at something. And while striving for excellence is not necessarily a bad thing; just be aware that it’s one more way in which a tween girl feels like she has to measure up. So if your tween daughter is not a super-something, help her find a niche of happiness somewhere—like being a mother’s helper for babysitting, cooking, or some other hobby. Most importantly, show her a lot of love and attention. Let her know that she has value just because of who she is—your daughter.

These five areas get to the center of what’s going on in your tween daughter’s mind. Does any of it surprise you?


What’s the best thing about being the age you are? What’s the worst?

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