So, you’ve got to a point where you have this parenting thing mostly figured out.
She’s going well at school and her social group is stable. Maybe she has had a few ups and downs settling into school, but you figure it can only be up from here, right? She’s becoming more independent and both you and her are excited for the middle years of primary school.
Just a heads up. Things might be about to get bumpy! You’re hitting the tween landscape. It’s a bit of a grey space.
There are many reasons that the tween years are like the dark side and we could analyse it using different theories of psychology which all differ and vary.
There was Piaget who recognised that from age seven children encounter a major turning point in a cognitive development. It marks the beginning of logical, or as Piaget called it, Operational Thought. Operational thought means the child can work things out in their head rather than having to physically experience them.
So in effect, you may have a daughter who is still very much viewing the social dynamics in her world through a pre-operational lens (not reading ‘abstract’ social cues or relationship changes) yet her friends have moved into the operational stage.
Using this theory, we can assume there will be some girls, who are oblivious to the changes until they happen. Until they are left out or the ‘rules’ of how the group work are no longer the same. Then there will be the girls who ARE the change. Who hit their lessons or developmental stages before others and are reading abstract cues early and reacting accordingly.
And all are perfectly imperfect.
So the good news?
Well Vygotsky and his Social Development Theory stressed the fundamental role of social interaction. He believed strongly that community plays a central role in the process of making meaning. In other words, we need social interaction to make meaning of the world and develop higher psychological functions. So, we need to experience a range of social interactions which produce a range of emotions, which may be described as positive or negative, to learn about ourselves and others in order to become capable of deeper thinking.
Or maybe, from a more philosophical or spiritual perspective we can just accept that our daughters (and ourselves) will move through our life lessons as they unfold. They are neither good nor bad, they just are. And the lessons are gifts to help us move further towards being the shiny bright gems that we are meant to be.
Regardless of what resonates with you, you can begin to see and maybe accept that the turbulence you have hit (or maybe it is still coming) is totally normal. There is, or will be, a changing dynamic in your daughters social group and the way she perceives her outer world.
But we can use these differences and social challenges to begin to teach our girls about changing relationships and how to manage emotions and behaviours to keep their interactions with peers helpful not harmful.
The natural tendency of the human condition is to try to understand life and control it. And here is where it gets interesting. Naturally there are a variety of ways that young people (and grown ups for that matter) try to deal with various social scenarios and feelings. And, there are a wide variety of socially helpful and socially harmful strategies that girls utilise to regain some sense of control in their social circle.
So regardless of where you and your daughter are, it’s a huge opportunity for growth when girls are mentored to navigate these changes and learn to trust themselves to confidently grow through it.