Pick Your Battles with Your Tween

How to tell what's worth fighting over

Avoid constant tension by picking your battles carefully. KidStock/Blend Images/Getty Images

Raising an older child requires that at some point you figure out what you're willing to fight for, and what you're willing to let slip by. Tweens will constantly push the envelope to see what they can and can't get away with, and you don't want every little thing to become an argument. That means you have to learn how to pick your battles. While every family's rules will dictate what is and isn't up for negotiation, the tips below might help you keep things in perspective.


Pick Your Battles When Your Tween is Acting Out

What's Not a Big Deal: It's not always easy to tell when it's time to nag or confront your tween when a rule or request has been ignored or broken. Your gut instinct will likely be your best guide to helping you decide if it's time to dole out a punishment or a warning. And what may be negotiable to you may not be to someone else. However, there are a few times when it's probably OK to ignore your tween's annoying behavior, such as those listed below. 

A Messy Bedroom: Your tween may choose to ignore your request for a spit spot room, and while it may be annoying to you, it's probably not a huge deal in the long run. Give your tween a little wiggle room when it comes to his room, but make it clear that occasional clean-ups are necessary.

Occasional Treats: You want your tween to eat healthy foods, but it's OK if he occasionally picks up the bag of cookies for an after school snack.

As long as your child's all around diet is healthy, you can turn the other way when he opts for a soda over water. 

Clothing: Your tween will likely want to reinvent her style, and that might mean opting for clothing choices that you don't like. As long as she's not wearing provocative or revealing clothes, allow her to  create her own identity, even if it means not always liking her choices.

The same goes with your tween's hairstyle. It's fine to allow her to experiment, even if you think she looks a little bit silly. 

Occasional Moodiness: Growing up is hard work, and the tween years are especially difficult. Your child may occasionally snap at you or his siblings or hide in his room to get away from everyone. Allow your child some space from time to time, as long as he's not being abusive or disrespectful.

What is a Big Deal: There will be times when your child's behavior must be challenged and he or she should be disciplined. How do you know when it's time to lower the boom? 

When Your Tween is Hurting Someone Else: Never allow your child to bully someone or disrespect you or another adult. Step in and dole out discipline if your tween talks back to you, or attempts to physically hurt you or someone else. 

When Your Tween is Hurting Himself: If your child's behavior puts his safety in jeopardy, it's time to step in. This includes experimentation with alcohol, drugs or smoking.


When You Catch Your Tween Lying: You have to stop lying before it gets worse and before your tween heads into the teenage years. Lying should not be allowed, and when you catch your child telling stories, it's time to set him straight. 

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