How to Prepare Your Growing Tween for Puberty

Girl tickling nose of sister with make-up brush.
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Many 9 to 12-year-olds are happy being tweens, and don't necessarily want to be growing up too fast — but puberty does change things, and there's no stopping it. Tweens don't have to fear puberty and all the changes that come with it. There are advantages to growing up, and even puberty itself can bring changes that your tween will enjoy.

How to Present Puberty as a Positive

If your tween is dreading the idea of being catapulted into being a teen, there are many aspects that you can point out to make the prospect of growing up and growing older a positive one. You don't need a heart to heart—if that's what you or your child is afraid of—but even lighthearted conversations that you have over time can help. Pointing out all the new experiences your child is going to encounter in the coming years can be reassuring to your tween. The idea here is that if they know about the upside of puberty, then the transition might not be so intimidating.

All of the positives of growing up and puberty can fit under three distinct categories—your tween can look forward to new experiences, added responsibilities, and a whole new look. Don't be afraid to go into detail to really give your tween some things to be excited about: 

New Experiences

  • Trying out for the middle school or high school sports teams. (Growth spurts and increased power may mean that your child finds new skills and sports that they are good at.)
  • Getting to go certain places unsupervised
  • Joining after-school clubs
  • Visiting colleges and thinking about life after high school
  • Learning how to drive
  • Making new friends
  • Tackling skills they've always wondered about (such as cooking or fixing cars)
  • Picking their own classes at school
  • Finding new hobbies and trying higher-level skills
  • Going to movies that aren't rated-G
  • Dating
  • Spending more time with friends
  • Staying out later

Trusted With New Responsibilities

  • Helping out with family responsibilities, such as watching younger siblings or helping prepare meals
  • Getting to make more decisions in their day to day activities and for their own future
  • Babysitting, mowing lawns and earning their own money with a job
  • Getting a cell phone

New Look

  • New clothes and shoes for their growing body
  • Getting contact lenses (if they wear glasses or interested in trying colored lenses)
  • Shaving legs or face
  • Straight teeth as the braces come off
  • Picking out their own clothes or wearing makeup (within your limits)

Share these milestones about the upside of puberty with your tween and present them as things to be excited about (even though the idea of shaving every day may not seem so great to you anymore). He or she will likely embrace the idea of adolescence rather than dread the changes to come. And remember to be patient with your tween when puberty and mood swings set in. It's a stressful phase of life, to be sure, and your kiddo needs all the help you can offer.

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.