10 Activities to Encourage Self-Expression in Pre-Teens

Nurture self-expression in your budding teen with these outlets that provide opportunities to communicate during these tricky years.




For your near-teenager, it's essential for her to have an outlet for communicating personal feelings. Whether you watch from center stage or behind the scenes, let these engaging activities facilitate self-expression in your tween:

  1. Move Your Body. Encourage your child to crank up the tunes and dance! It shakes off stress, keeps kids fit, and it's just plain fun. He may only do this when you're not looking, but that's fine. Or try a dance-based game for your video-game system (such as Dance Dance Revolution for PlayStation). 
  2. Use Your Words. Help your child create a private website or blog to share thoughts and get feedback from family and friends. (Review Internet safety rules regularly.) Start a family newsletter full of interviews, flashbacks, and individual updates.
  3. Start an Art Studio. Shape a new morning mug, or braid a friendship bracelet. The whole family can design faux stained-glass windows with special peel-off paint, and change them every season. With no rules to conform to, crafty activities like these inspire your tween to convey ideas without restraint.
  4. Celebrate Style. Some days she dons a flow-y floral blouse — other days, black and baggy garb. Gauge how she feels by noticing the clothes and accessories your middle schooler wears. While you may need to enforce a basic dress code to banish age-inappropriate choices, allow as much leeway as you can.
  5. Support Sports. Sports are a healthy way for passionate preteens to express determination and release stress. Solo activities like biking, surfing, or martial arts let him gain focus and confidence. Team sports foster a sense of camaraderie through cooperation and fair play.
  6. Be the Teacher. Mentoring younger children is a helpful way for tweens to foster healthy relationships while learning to articulate concepts in elementary terms. These encounters embolden quiet kids, launch dialogue, and require give and take.
  7. Capture Snapshots. When your tween gets sick of posing for you, invite him to step to the other side of the lens and start snapping. Experimenting with light, shadows, color, and subject will let him convey distinct moods.
  8. Go Outdoors. Whether urban or rural, your environment offers opportunity for creativity. Plant a garden, and watch it grow from seed to supper or sapling. Hike to the top of a mountain or the roof of your apartment building, and sketch the skyline.
  9. Take a Tour. Ask your child for a guided tour of his classroom, library, or recreation center. It will make him feel knowledgeable, while giving you the inside scoop. Did he show you his painting, but say the one next to it is "way better"? Clue in on the things he overlooks, as well as those he shares.
  10. Go Digital. Equip your tween with the tools to make a video documentary about current passions: endangered animals, program cuts at school, or the skate park that still hasn't opened. Stage a screening for classmates or relatives.
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