Preteens nowadays move in a world where there is too much information and entertainment available and accessible, yet often presenting contradicting ideas. Add to that the fact that at age 12, they are entering a phase of experiencing physical transformations, new emotions and cognitive development. No longer a little child but only almost a teenager, their ambivalent world can make them act with maturity one moment and with childishness in the next.
At this stage, a child’s pathway to his or her teenage status can be affected by how parents deal with the changes. Ideally, parents must facilitate their tween’s accurate exploration and processing of the conflicting information they obtain through interaction in their social environment. Parental-gatekeeping or the extent by which parents allow or restrict also needs adjustments, lest a 12-year old child’s preeteen development becomes impaired by an overly autocratic style of parenting.
The importance of Understanding a Preteen’s World
Prior to the advent of computer technology and the Internet, parents were not confronted with challenges posed by the use of smartphones and engagement in social media sites, Now more than ever, parents should strive to understand what goes on in their preteen’s world, because today’s generation of 12-year olds are exposed to different elements; whether coming from video games, movies, streamed videos and social media influencers.
While helicopter-parenting is considered too restrictive for tweens who are beginning to have awareness about entitlement to privacy, totally stepping-back will not help either. Fencing is the more supportive type of parenting as it allows children to make their own decisions but within certain boundaries that a child must understand as limitations ensuring their safety and well-being.
How far or the extent of boundaries set is often a judgment call; but based on understanding the world a preteen prefers to interact and engage in. While some prefer to focus on academics and in preparing for their future, not all preteens share the same outlook. Most 12-year old boys prefer to interact with peers who can help boost their social confidence by becoming more skilled in playing video games, playing a specific sport, while in some cases, simply becoming more popular or attractive to girls.
As parents, we have a common desire to help our children. One way of finding out the kind of world that one’s preteen moves in is to take time to talk not only with our child’s peers but with parents as well. However, make it a point to ask questions casually in order to create a bond and not a barrier. Knowing what other parents set as boundaries is one way of making informed decisions on how far to let a child go in exploring his own path toward his or her development as a teenager.
Still, first-hand information is always best as this can also strengthen the bond of parent-child relationship. As a parent goes about choosing toys or gadgets as gifts, it will also demonstrate the extent of support on what child is interested in or in exploring other field of interest.
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