Transitions: Little Kid to Preteen

By Lisa Katz

For some of us, change is easy. For others, change is a little harder to accept. But, whether it is something ordinary like your child going from one grade level to the next, or an even bigger change like moving to a new home, changes are going to happen in our everyday lives. What about when your child wants to change, or transition, into some big kid stuff? This could include wanting to watch more “grown-up” television programs instead of cartoons, or even the desire to have more “teenage” or older-looking clothing. It is sometimes a hard balance for a parent. You want to be involved in your child’s life yet not be completely overprotective.

To tackle the issue of television programming, our prayers have been answered (or at least assisted). Most television networks are using universal ratings now. These are fantastic guidelines and offer you a small overview of the content and approximate age-level that is appropriate for viewing a specific program. Using these ratings can help when determining whether certain program topics are still too mature for your children.

According to Wikipedia, maturity is “the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive.”

You know your kid better than anyone! Can he handle watching a girl and a boy kiss on TV or is he still grossed out by girls? Can she handle watching a show about shoplifting or bullying? The best way to determine this is to ask your child and evaluate her reaction and response. Separating siblings to view certain programs may be ideal for everyone. A younger child can watch cartoons in one room while your older child can watch something “older” that you allow, like Nickelodeon, in another. Regardless of the age of your child, program supervision is important.

Then there is the want by your tween to look older. These days it is sometimes difficult to see any difference in what an adult wears from what a preteen wears. What your daughter is allowed to wear is truly your call. If, for example, her body is already developing, she may be ready to shop in the junior department of the store.

You will need to determine her maturity level, both physically and emotionally. Look for signs. Taking her to that department will make her feel like a big girl but you can still guide her and have the final say. Sometimes even if she is developed, your daughter may prefer to wear athletic or even baggy clothing because she is still unsure about her changing body. Just remain supportive.

All of these transitions or changes that your child craves are just baby steps towards independence. Fortunately, these little steps come in small stages. There’s plenty of time for the parent to adjust… well, maybe.

How do some of our Giggle friends feel about this transition?

“I look at each of my children individually and set the boundaries necessary for each one based on who they are. Each one needs something different from me.” – G.B.
(Mom to 3 children)

“My daughter goes by those TV ratings for every show she lets her kids watch. Her kids have learned to look at the ratings too.” – V.C. (Mom to two adults who are both mothers with children)

“I watch shows with my younger daughter to make sure they are appropriate. With my older daughter, she doesn’t usually watch TV. More often, she watches You- Tube music videos or makeup tutorials. While these are typically unsupervised, my daughter does share many of the videos with me.” – A.F.
(Mom to 3 children)

“Of course I wasn’t ready for my daughter to dress like an older girl. Some of the clothing nowadays takes things a little too far. I just hope she always makes the right choices because first impressions are often based on what you look like.” – A.K.
(Dad to 2 children)