What are Tweens? Meaning, Changes, 8 Facts

Each life stage and age group has a distinct, descriptive, and identifying term. Tweens are a tiny group of children that are sometimes difficult to recognize. Physical, emotional, and social development differs from child to child, making the adolescent age group one of the most varied.

What are Tweens?

In terms of marketing and demography, youngsters aged 8 to 14 have become a potentially valuable client base known as tweens. Tweens are regarded “in between” the typical child and adolescent developmental phases.

What are Tweens?

Many saw themselves as younger replicas of their adolescent siblings’ sense of style, not as youngsters depending on their parents’ tastes. Lifestyles are of particular importance to marketers since brand loyalty frequently begins at this time.

Defining a Tween

Cognitive Development

As children develop and mature, so do their cognitive abilities. Teenagers have reached the stage of development where they can foresee the outcomes of their actions.

This allows them to make better educated judgments and build conclusions based on evidence and logic.

What are Tweens?

Tweens also begin to shift from egocentric to empathic thinking, able to see things from the perspective of others rather than simply their own. These shifts in thought influence a child’s behavior and behaviors in many ways.

Emotional Development

As adolescents transition from infancy to maturity, their emotional recognition and coping skills improve. This age group becomes more cognizant of the world’s actual hazards and places less focus on fictitious ones, such as imagined animals.

Due to this emotional development, adolescents prioritize putting the needs of others above their own. While learning these new emotions might be frightening for some, it is also the period when children begin to create their own principles and values.

Physical Development

Throughout childhood, children develop at various speeds, so each tween may experience these changes at different periods. Some children grow physically and socially at a quick rate while others lag behind, which can produce identity issues for children who feel too different from their peers.

What are Tweens?

Typically, females begin puberty sooner than boys, therefore preteen girls frequently appear taller and larger than boys of the same age.

Beginning about age 10, females may experience a broadening of the hips, an increase in body fat, an increase in hair growth in the underarms and pubic region, and the development of breasts.

Around the age of 12, males may experience increased hair growth, vocal changes, and penis and testicular enlargement. At this age, sexual development is also occurring, and children may find each other attractive and learn to recognize desirable and unpleasant characteristics.

Parent-Child Relationships

As adolescents undergo all of these developmental changes, it may have both beneficial and bad effects on their relationships with their parents and family. Parents of adolescents might anticipate the following behaviors:

  • Augmented need or desire for autonomy and privacy
  • Less physical intimacy between family members
  • Enhanced reliance on friendships
  • Reluctance to answer personal inquiries
  • Taking fashion and behavior inspiration from peers and celebrities.
  • Extreme emotional expressiveness
  • Heightened awareness of social standing
  • Heightened interest in social activities with family and friends

Tweens and their social life

During the adolescent years, friendships that appeared to be so basic and straightforward while your child was in early elementary school became more complex. They are encountering the notion of “cool” for the very first time.

Dr. Michele Borba, a parent expert, told Mom.com, “Tweens are the new teenagers.” Earlier and earlier, they are coping with strain. Your son’s best buddy from kindergarten may no longer want to hang out with him, while your daughter may become more concerned with fitting in than with pursuing her true passions.

Whether or not this occurs in a painful manner for your tween, social groups frequently endure rapid, dramatic changes at this time.

As a parent, it might be tough to observe your child suffering or experiencing uncertainty. You cannot (and should not) protect kids from every harm, though. Listening to and affirming their feelings may not feel like enough, but it’s actually one of the finest ways you can assist your preteen.

Yes, the adolescent years are when many children encounter their first romantic partnerships. Again, despite the fact that watching this might be quite unsettling for a cautious parent, as long as you are keeping your adolescent safe, you are performing your duty.

They will inevitably make errors, and it is your responsibility to be present when this occurs and assist them in determining how to proceed.

Tween Interests

In this tension between clinging to childhood and desiring adulthood, there are children on both sides of the spectrum. There are people who do not wish to mature and those who cannot move quickly enough towards adolescence. This has a significant influence on the activities that preteens will engage in.


As with many younger children, adolescent leisure time is largely used by basic media such as television and video games. About half of all preteens have a television in their bedroom, while the other half have a tablet. These are the key entertainment options for children ages 9 to 12 years old.

In terms of television programs, animation still reigns supreme. According to Netflix evaluations, the most popular preteen television programs are Yu-Gi-Oh, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Slugterra.

Children of this age are more likely to watch television or play video games than to utilize social media or mobile gaming. The average preteen watches around two hours of television every day. These choices indicate that the majority of preteens are still firmly anchored in childhood.

Online Activity

While parents believe that children are acquiring and utilizing smartphones and social media accounts at earlier ages, evidence indicates that preteens are more likely to view internet videos, with 35 percent of them doing so daily.

What are Tweens?

About sixty percent of preteens prefer watching television to any other activity. These children are not yet familiar with social media, selfies, or parties.

Although the media choices of preteens reflect the immaturity of their age group, the majority of preteens claim their parents have discussed media use with them more in terms of safety than time constraints. In terms of internet activity, adults are treating preteens more like adolescents than children.


Unlike adolescents, tweens still enjoy reading for pleasure. Approximately fifty percent of preteens are assigned reading as homework. However, middle schoolers are equally inclined to read for pleasure and schoolwork.

On an average day, this age group spends more time reading for enjoyment than doing assignments. Popular novels for middle school students often come under the categories of fantasy or humor, although they can also include difficult factual issues such as bullying.


In terms of fashion, preteens seek to show their individuality, but not necessarily through adolescent or adult trends. In 2017, popular fashion trends for preteens include stripes, vivid colors, and pattern mixing for both boys and girls.

This age group is likely to wear colored pants with patterned shirts and bags. This style is a more mature version of the primary hues and animal or character illustrations that young children like.

Additionally, some preteens attempt to fit in with older peers by utilizing cosmetics and personal hygiene items. According to recent data, 80% of preteens use cosmetics and personal care items.

What are Tweens?

About half of these children claim that using skin care, hair care, cosmetics, and scent items boosts their confidence. Even if they do not need or know how to properly utilize these things, peers see them as more mature if they possess and wear them.

Different phases of adolescence are characterized by a variety of interests, although the majority of preteens are interested in adolescent and adult activities, styles, and preferences.

In order to be treated as a teenager, this sort of tween desires to appear and act more mature. In the past, the tween market was a massive demographic that spent a great deal of money on a variety of products.

The tween market is diminishing as older children search for ways to fit in with teenagers. Kids’ fashion preferences have become more sophisticated, and they desire to leave the children’s area of stores.

The Influence of Tweens

In the United States, preteens have considerable purchasing power and are a marketing target for their money (and influence over their parents’ purchasing power).

It was the tween market that made household names like Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, and Harry Potter.

Many parenting experts worry that adolescents nowadays are maturing too quickly. They report that preteens are exposed to harmful amounts of violence, sex, drugs, and other activities via television, video games, the internet, social media, and literature.

Parents may influence and counteract harmful influences on their preteen. Your family’s values will go a long way toward guiding your adolescent through these difficult times.

Get food and health advice to help your children remain happy and healthy.

Any parenting advice to help navigate these years?

Here are some thoughts on how you might assist your adolescent with this transition:

Practice empathy and understanding

The key to parenting a preteen is combining empathy and understanding with the establishment of appropriate limits.

Help guide decision-making: evaluating pros and cons

Despite the fact that preteens demonstrate a great deal of independence at this age, they still require parental guidance to make healthy decisions.

They will require guidance about buddy groups, personal style, interests, course choices, and more. Teach students how to examine pros and drawbacks as a means of making sound decisions.

Be a good role model

Your adolescent will continue to view you as a role model, even if they are pursuing distinct hobbies.

Your adolescent will look up to you if you demonstrate positive behaviors, such as taking regular exercise, eating nutritious meals, and expressing emotions in a healthy manner.

Teach your adolescent about healthy lifestyle choices to prevent the development of undesirable behaviors such as a preoccupation with their weight.

Have conversations about sex, drugs, and alcohol

Increased conformity concerns may make adolescents more receptive to peer pressure.

It is crucial to have frank talks with your kid about sex, drugs, and alcohol as early as possible, before they are exposed to such knowledge through their classmates. This might encourage your preteen to approach you with inquiries.

Never intentionally embarrass your tween in front of their peers

Also, if your adolescent shares embarrassment-related concerns, listen to them without passing judgment. At this age, adolescents may take chances, but they are unlikely to want to risk disgrace in front of their classmates.

Never intentionally humiliate your adolescent in front of their classmates. Shaming will not teach anyone anything, but it may cause them to lose confidence in you as a confidant.

Monitor use of technology and social media

It is crucial to supervise your tween’s digital use and educate them online safety at this age. Discuss improper information and what they should do if they encounter or observe cyberbullying.

What developmental behaviors are expected during the tween years?

Increased independence is a defining characteristic of adolescence. Your youngster will begin experimenting with new activities to help them determine their identity.

While they may still enjoy family time, you may notice that your tween is making a concerted effort to develop their own interests. During this period, friend groups get a newly elevated status.

What are Tweens?

You may observe the following alterations in your tween’s behavior:

  • Higher likelihood of taking risks
  • A more rebellious disposition or possibly a desire to “break the rules”
  • An abrupt loss of interest in once-beloved pastimes, exchanged for new ones.
  • An endeavor to participate in a variety of sports, arts, and other activities until finding the proper “fit”
  • Increased desire for sleep, particularly during weekends and school vacations
  • They worry about fitting in with their peers
  • Heightened concerns about being “embarrassed” in front of others
  • Puberty’s hormone variations cause greater emotional swings.
  • Heightened focus on body weight and physical attractiveness
  • Your tween may also spend more time on technology by watching videos, playing video games, or interacting with friends on social media.
  • Consequently, you may observe that your child has a heightened awareness of drugs and alcohol, as well as sexuality and relationships.

As adolescents enter puberty, they undergo physical changes in addition to emotional and mental transformations. Consequently, your adolescent may inquire about the following bodily changes:

  • Enhanced body hair
  • Rapid development
  • Bigger feet and hands
  • More “baby teeth” are shedding
  • The emergence of acne
  • Girls’ breast growth and commencement of menstruation are correlated.
  • Bigger genitals in boys

Stuck in Between

Tweens are not kids anymore, yet they are not yet adolescents. This age group is comprised of children at various developmental stages attempting to find their place in the maturation process. Each child is unique, but preteens share a few features that are indicative of their age.


The adolescent years reflect key developmental milestones for your child. However, while your child is technically leaving childhood, they are not yet adolescents and still want your assistance and advice to make good decisions.

Communication and providing a good example are two of the most effective strategies to lead your preteen through these important years. If you need assistance with your child’s mental or physical health, consult with their pediatrician.

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Pat Moriarty
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