Is It Better For Tweens When We Let Them Fail?

by Parent Co. January 14, 2016

At no other time in our lives, save for infancy, do we experience as many changes as we do between the ages of 10 and 14.

The tween years - those years when a person is no longer a young child and not yet a teenager - is a time of rapid change on every front: cognitive, social, physical, emotional. Which sure explains a lot about why middle schoolers are sometimes terrifying, oft perplexing and, occasionally, straight up BIG FAT JERKS. As tweens make their way through this tumultuous period of life, so follow the parents wondering, basically, if it's even possible to support, love, discipline, encourage, and challenge these chameleon creatures. One pressing question is: should we sometimes let them fail? Mehgan Leahy's Washington Post article offers some insight. The quick answer is: It depends. Meghan's article presents an inventory of questions parents should first ask themselves before making the difficult decision to let a child fail. It's a check yourself before your wreck yourself approach. To that same end, when our tweens are struggling, we must consider that something other than straight obstinance is at play. As over-diagnosed as many allege it's been, some kids really do have ADHD.

These kids, especially, will benefit from consistent exercise. In an Atlantic article aptly entitled: Exercise is ADHD Medication, author James Hamblin summarizes a number of comprehensive studies, all of which conclude that when kids are physically active, everything improves. Even very light physical activity improves mood and cognitive performance by triggering the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, similar to the way that stimulant medications like Adderall do.

A good question to ask your grumpy tween is: do you have to sit all day in school? This Washington Post piece explores a typical tween's school day. The author, Valerie Strauss, attends school for a day and finds that she can't handle sitting for so long, so why would we ask this of our wiggliest humans?I’m mentally exhausted and the day has just begun. I was planning on observing the whole day. I just can’t do it. I decide to leave right after lunch. It's no easy road parenting a tween, this we know. Bottom line: stay close, keep asking questions, don't give up. Source: The Washington Post, The Atlantic


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