Denver Tween Photographer
As my children get older, I love being a Denver newborn and children photographer even more! I love cuddling fresh sleepy babies (without the sleepless nights) and doing silly things to make toddlers laugh (without the tantrums). Lately though, I have been in a panic at the thought of my own baby starting middle school.
Everytime I open Facebook or a magazine, I see tips on parenting newborns and toddlers, cute craft ideas for preschoolers and many articles about young grade schoolers. With two growing boys, I feel left out! No one seems to be talking about how to parent 9-12 year old (tween) boys. So here are some thing I have learned the hard way from being a mom of a just turned 11 year old boy.
1. Let him express himself.
My son has always had strong preferences for certain clothing and how to comb his hair. Initially I fought him growing out his hair. Once he promised that he would keep it clean and combed, I stopped insisting on haircuts. Now he seems more confident in his appearance and says he feels like himself.
2. Let him earn independence.
When you have a new baby your job is to protect and take care of them, but as they get older it’s your job to teach them how to take care of themselves. This is so much easier said then done. I find it helps to start with small steps. For instance, letting go of their hand when they cross the street. Then standing a few feet behind as they look for cars and cross by themselves. Now my older son escorts my younger son safely across the street.
3. Let him fail.
This one is so hard! I am always available to help my children with schoolwork, but I am trying to step back and let them take more initiative for completing their work. Sometimes things get forgotten, but my hope is that they will learn now from their mistakes and be better prepared for middle and high school.
4. Let him spend money.
I have always made my kids order their own meals at restaurants, but recently I started to let my children make small purchases (with my money or their own). They get so excited to go to the counter and order a bagel or to buy a small treat from the grocery store. Plus they have to communicate with the store clerk and count their money.
5. Let him face your fears
The first month of (a new) school my son came home and told me he was running for student council and would be giving a speech in front of the class the next day. I was worried no one would vote for him. I was worried he would be nervous or feel rejected. I told him my fears and he chose to run anyway! I am so proud he faced my fears, and I learned a great lesson–next time I will be much more encouraging!
6. Let him make friends.
When the boys were young their friendships were influenced by playdates I coordinated. Now they are more independent and making their own friendships. Sometimes their friendships surprise me, but I find asking why they befriended a particular person is always insightful. I find it important for me to get to know their friends, and if possible spend time in the classroom or have kids over to play. As they grow older, I hope I can encourage them to be positive influences on their friends and trust the choices they make.
7. Let him share your hobbies.
If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have said I have absolutely nothing in common with a tween boy. And while for the most part that is true, I really embrace the shared interests my son and I do have. For instance, we both love to read, so this year, we have been reading and discussing the same young adult novels. Wonder, Bridge to Terabitha, and the Giver are a few recent picks.
8. Let him play sports.
My son has been interested in sports since he was a toddler. Sports (and other activities) have been such a wonderful blessing for our family. We have moved several times since he started elementary school and joining a team always gives him an instant group to belong to. I am a big fan of letting him dabble in many sports, and I love seeing him not only gain confidence and coordination when he learns a new skill, but also perform better academically when we are in a routine with practice and games. Basketball, flag football, and swim team are his favorites (we can only handle one sport per season).
9. Let him play with toys.
My boys do not have phones, but they have access to video games and aps. Once they start playing a game or watching a YouTube video, it is very hard to drag them off their devices. If it’s too dark or cold, going outside to play isn’t always an option. So I encourage them to play with their toys (Legos or Imaginex figures). Usually once they get out some toys they forget about their electronics and play very creatively. There are some other great unplugged activies in this article. Basically, I don’t want them to grow up too fast!
10. Let him feel guilty.
I love to make a big deal out of a good grade, praise from a teacher or doing a chore without being asked. I love the fact my son has great self-esteem. But, I also want him to understand the consequences of his actions and be held accountable if he hurts a friends feelings or is unkind to his brother. Every once in a while we have to talk about a bad choice and discuss the appropriate action if necessary.
11. Let him be loved.
Just because they don’t fit perfectly on your lap, doesn’t mean they don’t like to be loved. My son has always hated being kissed and so instead he gives us his World Famous Hug each night before bed. He is also embarassed about hugging in public, so we invented a hand hug. Right before he gets out of the car we squeeze hands to say goodbye.
Parenting is such a wonderful learning experience! Just like all of you, I am doing my best to be the best parent I can be everyday. When I start feeling like I have the hang of things, a new challenge arises! The reward is when my son opens the door for me, asks about my day, or helps his brother with his homework, I get to see little glimpses of the great man he is growing to be.
Julie Livermore Photography specializes in newborn, family, child, maternity, birthday, baby and first year photography in Denver, Colorado and surrounding areas including but not limited to Boulder and Broomfield.