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Care Stages: How Does My 'Tween Grow? Ages 8-12

Lisa Tabachnick
July 18, 2017




Ah, the "between" years. This age group which usually describes those 8 to 12 is better known as the 'tween years. From shyness to independence, from baby fat to puberty, this can be a wildly exciting and tumultuous time of life for you and your 'tween.

While every child is different, here are issues your child may be dealing with:


Shyness can be a factor for some 'tweens. According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), the degrees of shyness range from kids who are simply timid to those with a debilitating problem. Some methods that you, your partner, and your caregiver might use to help your 'tween cope with shyness include modeling:

  • Coping with failure as well as with success
  • Anger management
  • Using humor as a tool
  • Initiating conversations with others, responding to small talk, handling various social situations


Of course, puberty has a major impact on this age group. Some kids (usually girls) reach puberty as early as 8 years old although, according to NICHD (the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) the average age for those reaching puberty is 10-14 years for girls and 12-16 years for boys.

  • If possible (and without breaching your child's trust) advise teachers, coaches, babysitters, and other caregivers of important changes in your child's health and development such as the onset of menstruation or problems with sleeping.
  • According to Children Now, kids who feel that they can talk to their parents about sex are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, so it is important to initiate low-key conversations on bodily changes they are or will experience and the development of sexual feelings.

Social status

Maintaining popularity and hanging around with the "in crowd" may become important to your 'tween son or daughter at this stage. Wearing the right clothing, taking part in the same activities as their friends, and excelling (or failing) in certain classes may also become an issue.

  • You might think about hiring a mentor, trusted babysitter or tutor for your child if you feel she's falling in with the wrong crowd. A slightly older, trustworthy teen may guide your 'tween back to the right path. Search Care.com for listings of sitters and tutors in your area.
  • If your child's not in the "in crowd", let her know that there's more to life than being popular, despite how important it feels at the moment.
  • Try and help your child become more involved in an activity??where she excels, such as drama, soccer, gymnastics, or choir. That way, she'll feel confident in her abilities and make new friends at the same time.


You may feel your older 'tween child is mature enough to stay home on his own without a nanny or babysitter while you are out. In fact, an older 'tween may be able to begin babysitting younger children himself. You can find advice for new babysitters on Care.com and enroll your interested child in a babysitting safety course through the American Red Cross or other reputable agency.

Lisa Tabachnick Hotta is the mother of two young children and a freelance writer, editor and researcher.

* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan.?? Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

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