If there is one thing most adults can agree on, it would be the fact that there’s just something confounding about those pre-teen years we have come to refer to as the “tweens.” It is one of those transitional periods in life when children are in a sort of limbo between being children and teens. Once you understand the biological and emotional stage they are in, it gets quite easy to relate to them. You were, after all, a tween once upon a time. So, maybe it’s time to brush up on that epic period of our own lives we’ve long forgotten while we were busy adulting – or giving it our best shot at any rate!
A Prelude to Independence
As disconcerting as it may be for a biological parent, imagine being a foster carer of a tween in your care. Since your history, such as it is, is relatively new with a child, don’t let it startle you. It’s quite normal, but the one really good thing is that you have a support team as outlined by fostering agencies like thefca.co.uk in Northern Ireland.
Their social workers will gladly tell you that seeking a greater level of independence doesn’t always point to a traumatic past. This is the stage of development when it is typical for children to begin distancing themselves from the adults in their lives. As confusing as this newfound bid for more independence can be for a parent, it may be even more puzzling for others who weren’t there during the tween’s younger years.
The Hormonal Rollercoaster Ride
According to information provided by the NHS, the average age for the onset of puberty in girls is around the age of 11, but for boys it’s somewhere around the age of 12. However, they also note that puberty can begin between 8 and 13 in girls while it’s a bit later in boys where anytime between 9 and 14 is quite normal.
Those hormones now raging in their young bodies are also a large part of their bid for independence. Whether we are parents or foster carers, we should respect their need for a bit of privacy and some alone time. Once again, it’s quite natural and doesn’t always signal some deeper issue they are dealing with. The key is to be supportive of them whilst establishing an open-door policy. Calmly let them know you are there if they need to talk.
When in Doubt
One of the very best things you can do for yourself and the children in your care would be to read studies and information such as that provided by the Oxfordshire County Council. They have developed a guide for parents and carers who better need to understand puberty in tweens and teens.
Many of the things you might consider as disconcerting at any other developmental stage of a child can be quite natural during puberty. Once you understand this stage in the life of a child, it becomes easier to be the support system they really need. It’s really not as confusing as you might imagine once you learn to work with nature. Yes, it’s often as simple as that!