By Dr. Amanda Craig, Ph.D, LMFT
We often spend the years between 9-12 years old focusing on academic abilities and social concerns in elementary years and then prepare for the teen years. And we miss the explosion that is taking place right in front of us right here, right now. This is a time to lean into our children and who they are and yet to become. This tween period of development is when they are most vulnerable and we as parents can be impactful.
Three things happen during this period of time that blow parents away and shakes our tweens to their core. First, a massive reorganization occurs in the brain. This is a crucial step before the raging hormone changes of puberty begin. What this means to tweens is that at one moment they may be calm and cooperative and the next, irritable and aloof. There’s a wonderful book by Daniel Siegel that describes the tween brain changes entitled Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. In it he says the dismantling, pruning and rewiring in the brain’s neural circuitry leads to behaviors parents find most offensive such as impulsiveness, arguments and disorganization. The tween’s behavior is “all or nothing, my way or else.” There are eye rolls, sharp tongues and refusals to do what we as parents want. Leaving parents wondering what happened to their sweet child.