Positively parenting a pre-teen

9 - 12 years
Mother and daughter cuddling

During your child’s pre-teen years, you will see them start to blossom physically, emotionally and socially as they leave their childhood and begin to embrace independence. ‘Positive parenting’ can help with this transition, strengthen the relationship you have with your child and help them do better at school.

Here’s how it works.


During this time your child may form new social circles and mingle with different peers. Talk to your child about their friendships and encourage them to develop a wide social network through school and extra-curricular activities. Try to organise supervised social events so you can meet your child’s friends and their parents. Talk to your child about the positives and negatives of peer influence and discuss the importance of making wise choices.

Limits, boundaries and empathy

Your child will thrive in a secure environment with clear rules, boundaries and expectations for behaviour that are appropriate for their age. It is important to recognise your child’s growing sense of independence by allowing them more freedom as they get older, but try to continue to set clear boundaries for them. For example, you might allow your child to visit their friends on the weekends on the understanding they must be back at a certain time. Or, you might let your child invite a friend over on the condition their homework is complete.

Special time

Your child will be seeking independent experiences but will still crave special one-on-one times with you. When possible, enjoy some distraction-free time with your child. This can be anytime you spend together – during family meals, while assisting them with school work or on the way to or from school. It is also great to organise special one-on-one time to celebrate your child’s achievements like a good report card or doing well on a test. Showing your child you are interested in their life and learning will boost their self-confidence.

Praise and love

Your child will still want your affection and approval, so try to praise them for their achievements and let them know how proud you are of their developing skills and abilities. Tell your child how much you love them, and try to continue to show them affection. Pre-teens may start to feel self-conscious about displays of affection, especially in public. So if your child shies away from a kiss or hug, you can try a gentle hand on the shoulder or a rub on the back.  Even just a smile or a wink when you catch their eye can make your child feel secure and loved while respecting boundaries.

Positive parenting can help with your child’s transition from childhood into the teen years through communication, boundary setting, love and encouragement. Your support can boost their confidence, self-belief and sense of identity and help them to do better at school.

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Last modified
18 April 2020