Guidance on helping your tween handle life during the pandemic.

By Rene’ MacVay

It’s tough being a tween. You are stuck in the middle of being coddled like a preschool child but cannot drive and stay out late like a high school student. Tweens want some responsibilities, but also want to embrace being a child for a little while longer. A tween is physically and emotionally maturing and becoming more independent. Tweens still need their parents to help guide them through the challenges they face, but rely on their peer group for support during this time of change. During this unusual time, tweens need guidance from their parents.

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There is Comfort in Routines

Studies show that young people feel safe in an environment that is predictable. Parents and teachers foster routines at home to create a comfortable environment for them to thrive. With routines shattered, parents can help their tweens cope by establishing routines for them at home.

Parents no longer have to drive their children to events, but they may need to help them establish virtual connections with some groups. Parents who are coaches for their tween’s team can connect with players via Zoom or other platforms at the regular practice time. They could meet to check in, do some exercise related to their sport, and build camaraderie. Parents can reach out to coaches to suggest the idea too!

While students are meeting virtually with their teachers the school day is not the same. Parents can establish a school day routine at home and the tween will appreciate the structure and realize how much free time they actually have. Parents can provide their tween with guidelines for how to use the normal school day hours when they are not meeting with their teachers and classmates. Parents can suggest a time framework to work on assignments, a lunch schedule, and a break schedule. Tweens will appreciate the framework knowing that there is structure and flexibility in their new normal. 

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More Free Time Than Normal

With so much more free time, some tweens are at a loss for what to do. Many tweens are looking for their niche. Experimenting with different things at home will help them discover more about what they like and what their skill set is.

Tweens who are athletic may feel a sense of cabin fever as they crave physical activity. Parents can schedule times to walk, jog, throw a Frisbee, or ride bikes with their children. These activities are great for the family and can potentially fulfill a school P.E. requirement.

Tweens who are creative can begin to spend time in the kitchen cooking. They can try out recipes and experiment in the kitchen.

Tweens who are readers love to delve into books that have characters that are just like them. Realistic fiction and science fiction genres are very popular.

Tweens who are altruistic can find this time one that drives their passion. They can go through their closet and gather items they no longer wear and designate them for a donation once that is again possible. They could rally friends and family to do the same. One never knows, perhaps this time at home to think and experiment will spark their entrepreneurial spirit.

Tweens that are handy can help with projects around the house. The can help with repairs, yard work, and reorganizing based on their interests and skills. Tweens who have budding engineering skills may thrive participating in projects around the house.

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Responsible Social Distancing

Coping with staying at home can be difficult for tweens who prefer to socialize with peers and are starting to develop a sense of independence. There are ways for tweens to socially distance and continue developing their independence.

Tweens can have virtual meetings with their peers. They can organize a Zoom meeting to hang out and celebrate a friend’s birthday. They can organize a Zoom meeting to practice with their band, get exercise with teammates, or discuss a book they are reading or new Netflix show they are all watching together separately. There are tween social networking sites like Houseparty that many prefer to use as they are geared more to a youthful audience. The tweens I know like to Facetime one another and communicate via Snapchat.

There are many online portals tweens may go to for academic enrichment. Cool Math offers a review and practice through games. Free Rice is a learning site by the United Nations. Students can pick a category and answer questions. For each question they answer correctly, rice is donated to a developing country. The site is targeted for tweens and older students. Many parents are having their tweens work with an online private tutor to help them get caught up in school, navigate online learning, and gain valuable skills that will help them as they progress into high school.

Rene’ MacVay graduated from the University of Michigan. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in English and Art, a Masters in Education, and a Masters in the Humanities. She has taught and tutored for 20 years, and can be reached at

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