Last updateWed, 18 Oct 2017 10am


Sixth-grader shares advice for parents dealing with tweens

Shilpa Rao is a Gardner Bullis School sixth-grader from Los Altos Hills. She wrote this piece for a school assignment and wanted to share it with Town Crier readers.

It is not uncommon for the average parent to begin to worry at the onset of preadolescence. And, being protective parents, they hover and feel the need to watch their child’s every move. However, while the parents are conflicted with their children’s coming of age, the children are fighting another battle. They are fighting the battle of preadolescence. And, frankly, that can be extremely hard.


Now, what is the age of this preadolescence? It’s usually from 10 to 12. At that age, children begin to want independence. One of the main battles for independence with tweens is bedtime.

Tweens want to go to bed at times like 11 p.m. to midnight, times that are often disagreeable to parents. On the other side of the boat, parents want their kids in bed by 8-8:30 p.m. Obviously, the child isn’t going to be very happy with that. An agreeable time for kids to go to bed is around 9-9:30.

If the child doesn’t agree to that – scare them. Scare them with the truth. Research shows that teens (and tweens) need at least 8 1/2 hours of sleep per night – 9 1/4 hours is recommended, though it really depends on what time your kid wakes up. Maybe then it’s time to do the math and negotiate what time the tween should go to bed. If they violate that rule, make them go to bed an hour early for the whole weekend. Usually, weekend-long punishments teach us a lesson.

Wait, should I have told you that?

Monitoring books

These days, so many books are coming out that you can’t read all of them. However, it’s always good to try your best to see which books we tweens are reading and check them out. Ask for details, then read the first three chapters: That will tell you what you need to know.

Here’s some advice: Don’t let your child read violent or dystopian types of books (e.g. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins) until they are in (at least) seventh grade. But really, it’s up to you to make the right choice. Remember, every child is different. They all have different personalities. Girls usually are more prone to violence than boys. I’ll tell you one thing: If someone so much as mentions blood, I’ll puke.

Remember the types of books that are bad for your child and recommend the opposite or good books you know of. Sometimes tweens can handle bad words in books without saying them. There really is no rule for this one, except that you get to choose if you should take away the book or not.

Cellphones and social media

At the end of the day, when parents think that all of the tween problems are over, the problem of cellphones arises.

Tweens ask you: “Can I have a cellphone?” And they make it clear they want a smartphone.

So, here’s what you do. You give it to them! Make sure that they can call and stuff like that, but no texting. I know personally that is a huge waste of time for us. The same goes for social media, which can also be dangerous (e.g., Instagram, Vine).

In my opinion, kids should focus less on social stuff and more on studying. After all, using abbreviations like “LOL” and “OMG” can sometimes affect writing or success in school.

It’s important to know your children’s passwords. If they won’t share, there are ways to hack into it. This is so you can check if they aren’t following your rules. If they have violated a rule, take their phone away for a week or so. That should solve the problem.

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