Tweens are well on the road to knowing their own minds. They develop personal views on a range of issues and begin to know more clearly what they do and don’t like and what they care about. Caring is something tweens do a great deal of. A younger child will care when a friend gets hurt or he loses his pet rabbit, but a tween will see injustice in more abstract situations and may become aware of and angry about issues like inequality. They can now mount powerful arguments to support their outrage that, for example, animals are killed for humans to eat, rainforests are being cut down, or some children are hungry and live on the street.
Tweens are also likely to intensify an existing interest or choose a new one to define them. They may develop a passion for a sport or activity few others follow, adopt their friend’s passion, or become inspired by a school-led fundraising project. One 10-year-old I know named Ben was interested in nature and chose to do a survey of small mammals in his local park.
Ben couldn’t carry out his survey without some help from his mom, who bought the right chart and helped him make a plan. But how involved should you get?
Remember that it’s his pastime and passion: Your tween may need support — a trip to buy something or financial or setup help, but don’t become chief problem-solver. If you take over, it won’t be his own project, and he could become turned off.
Show interest by asking questions. Even if you view this current passion as a fad or a ridiculous obsession, ask about what fascinates him, to show respect. Ask how something works, what’s different about this rock band, or what he likes about this game.
Don’t make him feel inadequate if he doesn’t have a special passion. Not all tweens develop one. There’s no point trying to make it happen, because inspiration that deepens self-knowledge has to come from within.
Avoid belittling her preoccupation. Passions encourage enthusiasm, goal-setting, concentration, and commitment to task, each a key feature of self-motivation — that highly prized attribute that helps any child do well in school and gives direction and purpose to later life. Passions allow your tween a chance to become completely absorbed — lost in herself. So there’s value in following even a seemingly bizarre one.
- Allow her time to follow her passion and accept that her bedroom walls will likely be used for posters, slogans, etc.
- Instead of pushing your views, discuss your feelings and interests. Your tween will learn to examine his own interests and commitments.
- Help him channel emotions and feelings of injustice into action that could make a difference — you might organize a street sale or school collection.