Chicago mom explains what’s happening in your tween’s brain

Anyone with a tween or who has ever been a tween knows those middle school years mean a lot of bodily changes. It is still surprising to learn, though, that the tween years are the greatest time of growth outside of infancy.

Here are some facts on what’s going on in your tween’s body and how it may explain some of their more challenging behavior:

  • Bones grow faster than muscles during the tween years, which makes it very hard for 10, 11 and 12 year olds to sit still.

  • Wondering where your tween’s brain is? Well, it’s busy, but busy growing, which makes it harder for it to focus on other tasks. Growth in the frontal cortex of the brain peaks at age 11 for girls and age 12 for boys.

  • The frontal cortex is a key player when it comes to feeling empathy and self-awareness. Remembering that this part of the brain isn’t fully baked yet can reassure parents of self-absorbed tweens that they won’t always be like that.

  • The tween brain is producing cells and growing connections quickly, more so than are actually needed. The cells fight it out for survival and the cells that survive are the ones that survive.

  • Pretty much every living thing needs water to grow, right? The same is true of your tween’s brain. Keeping the brain hydrated can help it to function better, and some teachers are now encouraging kids to bring water bottles to class for that very reason.

  • Kids between ages 8 to 12 need approximately 10 hours of sleep per night, but it’s not unusual for that amount to increase during a time of major development and growth.

If you think about it, when your baby was going through a growth spurt, they did a whole lot of eating and sleeping. It’s entirely possible that your tweens will do the same thing.

Sources: Not Much Just Chillin’: The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers by Linda Perlstein; Tween Crayons and Curfews: Tips for Middle School Teachers by Heather Wolpert-Gawron; How Much Sleep Do Children Need? On Webmd.com

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