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Advice For Parenting Tweens and Teens Through Back-To-School Challenges

Hello Beautiful Mom,

This time of the year can bring about a whirlwind of emotions for our growing kids and us parents! So many back-to-school challenges and significant transitions are happening all at once – socially, emotionally, mentally, physically, and academically. And as a mom, it can be exhausting and make your head spin trying to stay calm and navigate the roller coaster of emotions and changes. I understand this all too well, and I would love to offer you some advice on how to help your tween or teen manage it all. It’s my passion and purpose to help moms feel supported and encouraged while parenting their tweens and teens through all the ups and downs of these crazy, complicated, challenging, exciting, and incredible years. Let’s walk this unpredictable winding road together, and always remember I am cheering you on and here for guidance.

During these back-to-school transitions, it’s important to remember all the challenges our tweens and teens are experiencing. By acknowledging and understanding these changes, we can foster greater empathy and guide them more effectively through this complicated phase of their lives.

This is a time when they are beginning all new experiences. 

Whether they are meeting new teachers, starting the exciting yet intimidating journey of middle school or high school, or doing the delicate dance of forming new friendships – every step is a learning curve. They’re trying to carve their niche, understand where they belong, and manage all the academic and social pressures. Let’s not forget the challenge of adapting to different teaching styles, grading systems, and an entirely new schedule, too.

Of course, our tweens and teens undergo various developmental changes across multiple dimensions as they gradually transition from childhood to adulthood. 

The next time you are scratching your head wondering and worrying, “What is going on with my kid that they are acting this way or _________(fill in the blank)” here are a few important reminders to help comfort and calm yourself:

They are going through a lot of social pressure and anxiety.

At the start of every school year, all kids are nervous about how they will fit in with different social circles, peer groups, and friends. Teenage friendships are fickle and futile and constantly shifting, and often dysfunctional. Your kid is surely experiencing some of that uncertainty, and the pressure can be intense and scary. Remember how hard that was for you at that age? Some things never change!

Friends become a priority at this age. 

This is developmentally appropriate as they strive to become more independent and figure out who they are and where they belong. They are starting to form their own sense of self and may experiment with different roles, activities, or behaviors. Friends become more influential in their lives, and peer acceptance and fitting in become critical.

They start to seek more autonomy.

They begin separating from their parents by wanting to start making decisions on their own. Don’t be surprised if they tend to disagree with you and don’t like you nagging or reminding them to do their homework (even if they need it). 

It can be helpful at this age to ask them, “How might I support you?” or “What do you think about that?” And when they say, “I don’t know.” That’s okay. At least you’re asking, which will help them think about the question. You can also ask for suggestions on how you can help support them too.

This striving toward independence is necessary in order for them to learn and grow and develop into a responsible adult. You can read more about what you can do to support them to become more independent here

It’s a roller coaster of emotions during the tween and teen years. 

If your kid begins to lash out in anger more, be curious. Oftentimes, this is a response to anxiety and their struggle to cope with the pressures of friendships, grades, exams, and even worrying about their future.

Developmentally they experience intense and fluctuating emotions due to changes in their hormones while going through puberty and also in all that’s going on in their adolescent brains.  Their mood changes can be frequent and seemingly unpredictable. 

Read more about riding the emotional rollercoaster of mood swings here and the adolescent brain here

And, of course, with these many changes, we need to ensure that we keep the lines of communication open as much as possible with our kids.

Here’s the latest on The Moms of Tweens and Teens podcast to help!

How To Have Hard Talks That Go Well With Your Teen or Young Adult, Interview with Dr. Emily Kline

Understanding the Emotional Lives of Teenagers, Interview with Lisa Damour

Autonomy-Supportive Parenting, Interview with Dr. Emily Edlynn

Letting Go: The Joys and Hardships of Raising Teens, Interview With Ali Flynn of Hang In There Mama

Remember, you and your tween or teen will experience ups and downs, and face challenges and moments of uncertainty. But that’s understandable and totally normal. Give yourself and your kids some grace. A little encouragement goes a long way, and your love and presence provide the stability and support they need.

Be on the lookout for our Lunch Box Love Notes next week to bring encouraging words to your tween or teen!

Stay strong, stay positive, and know that you are not alone!

I am rooting so hard for you!

Tons of love,


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