The main characteristics of pre-adolescently emotional development

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This article will familiarize you with the main characteristics of emotional development in pre-adolescense.

Pre-adolescence is a difficult time for all members of the family. Tweens experience the turbulent emotions of adolescence but tend to lack the maturity that older teens develop. They want independence and freedom but lack common sense. Parents should remind themselves that this is a normal stage of development and remain consistent about rules and expectations, even when your children maintain and insist that they be treated as adults.

Loyalty to a peer group
Pre-adolescent children form strong friendships and are often loyal to their peer group. This represents a shift as children shift the focus from their families to their friends. You can find lots of mentions of this fact both in specialized resources and essays of Parents and caregivers should understand that this is normal emotional development and that pre-adolescent children still love and need family but actively seek recognition from their peers. For example, they may become very upset if they cannot dress in the same style as their friends. In "Understanding Early Adolescence and Identity," Thomas M. Brinhaupt and Richard P. Lipka write that it is during this time of life and with their peers that children learn about social and group conformity, inclusion, and exclusion.

Pre-teens have a strong desire to assert individuality and independence. In "Family Matters," University of Delaware Cooperative Extension experts remind parents in the fact sheet, "Adolescent Development and Behavior: What to Expect," that this is when children begin to argue with parents about rules, time management, and personal grooming. Girls may start taking a lot of time in the bathroom as they become seemingly obsessed with their appearance; boys, on the other hand, usually resist washing their hair or changing their clothes. These behaviors may confuse parents, but they are normal reactions to changes in their bodies, minds, and emotions.

Strong emotions
Pre-teens experience stronger emotions than boys, and emotions become stronger in adolescence. The University of Alabama's Parenting Assistance Line advises against scolding or shaming children, pre-teens, and teens when they express strong emotions. When emotions are running high during a negotiation with your pre-teen, it is often wise to take a break so that both parties can calm down and then return to the conversation later. Pre-teens need to know that it is okay to experience strong emotions, and parents should model appropriate ways to express them. Preteens and adolescents who learn that they have to hide or try to ignore their feelings are more prone to depression and anxiety.

Mood swings
Pre-teens are prone to mood swings and touchiness. One minute they're laughing and enjoying your company, and the next minute they're in tears or running away in anger. Parents need to remember that this is normal and not take it personally. The University of Alabama's Parenting Assistance Line suggests that parents encourage their pre-teens to start keeping a journal. This is an excellent way to organize their thoughts and emotions and will continue to be a useful tool throughout the teenage years.

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