Rebellion and Secrets
Picture a pet trying to get off its leash. Wanting to get away from you, it will yank in the opposite direction from where you are going.
The same process occurs with your tween, and it should. More and more she wants to be her own distinct person and have her own personality, so naturally she pulls away from you. She does this physically, by spending more time with her friends, and psychologically, by rebelling against you. This is a welcome development that can go overboard.
A good way to honor your tween daughter's desire to defy you now and then is to let her have her say in matters that are not important in the long run. Consider her choice of hairstyle, clothing, purses, and nail polish among them. As long as her options are not offensive and against the school dress code, she can go with them.
Be sure your preadolescent daughter has some rules and regulations to rebel against. If there are none in place, she will take her instinct to rebel to school and the community. For a tween, the urge to break rules can be confined to a minimum if it has room to play itself out on the home front.
Do not cave in on matters of safety, health, and important values, however. Make it clear to your girl that you will not bend when it comes to her physical, mental, and psychological well-being. But you can do a few important things:
Compromise. Let your daughter explain to you why she has to stay up until midnight — to attend a concert by a teen idol you approve of, for example. Then have her take a nap before the concert, and another one the day after the concert.
Let her individualize her meals. She can have dinner food for breakfast and breakfast food for dinner, for example; but she must eat three meals a day.
Let her set her own weekly schedule, as far as after-school activities are concerned, as long as she schedules some “me-time” — time for chilling out — on a regular basis.
Give your girl as long a “leash” as you can and only tug her back when you see her approaching a ravine.
Keeping secrets is another trait of girls in their tween stage. Suddenly you find your daughter whispering to her best friend and being whispered to by her. This is a normal stage among girls that age. Some researchers say it is the precursor of later intimacy, a close warm relationship with the “absence of fences.” Use a common-sense approach when dealing with your girl's sudden tendency to keep things from you. In the past, she probably came to you with every little concern. Now you find her discussing all sorts of topics with her friends. Be glad. Do you really care about who had to go to the bathroom twice during social studies?
My daughter talks to her friends on her cell phone a lot, but whenever I enter the room, she hangs up. Do I need to worry?
No, if you notice her overall progress in school and at home continuing along the same lines as in the past. Girls like secrets. But yes, if you find your daughter suddenly neglecting her studies, changing her habits, and refusing to look you in the eye when you ask her if anything is wrong.
If your daughter's secrecy worries you, it is time to find out why. You do that best by getting her to open up about it.