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Raising Preteens: Realizing How Uncool You Have Become

Understanding—and Surviving—Preteen Angst

Preteens try to act cool, but in reality they are scared of everything. They know that they do not fit into the adult world and that they are not yet self-assured enough to fit in with the teenagers. But they also know they are no longer babies and that they can't hold on forever to the things of childhood. Nature is telling them to move on and they do not know how—except by making your life miserable.


The symptoms of preteen angst are moodiness and downright contrariness, but deep inside it's really about insecurity. It's caused by the fact that preteens face so many conflicting desires: To grow up but still be a baby, and to make their own decisions but still be able to turn to Mom when the going gets tough.

Mom Alert!

If your child is so out of sync with his peers as to cause problems in school or at play, by all means seek a professional consultation. Just don't create problems where none exist. Consider yourself lucky if your child wants to savor childhood. She will be ready to move on when the time comes.

When It's “Anchors Away, and Full Steam Ahead…”

Aren't mothers lucky? We want to be the anchor, while our child's motorboat tries to speed away. Preteens don't really want to be out of control, but they don't want to stand still for any length of time, either. Whether or not they admit it, they need us to be there for them. When they're all dressed up in the latest fashions and trying to imitate the people they admire, they may look older than their years. But if you really stop to listen to them they are still ordinary children.

And When the Old Toy Box Still Looks Pretty Good

If you're fortunate, your preteen might stay on the younger side of the teens, behaviorally speaking. If your child is still playing with toys or behaving in silly, childlike ways, count your blessings. These transitional years are the time when children can test their limits without having to go too far into any dangerous territory. This is a time of information-gathering and self-discovery. So don't worry about encouraging any behavior that you feel is more age-appropriate, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Each child has a kind of internal clock that, when left to its own devices, will make everything that is supposed to happen, happen in its own time.

To Everything, There Is a Season

If your daughter still likes to play with her dolls in the preteen years, don't worry. Unless your child is expressing behaviors that clearly indicate she's having problems, be content to guide her gently, while letting her grow up at her own pace. Whatever you do, try to resist the temptation to compare your child to everyone else's kids.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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