Mothering a Preteen Daughter


Your daughter faces many changes during her preteen years and she needs your help to get through them with as few permanent scars as possible. From acne and periods to first boyfriends and peer pressure, talk to your daughter, provide a healthy role model and offer assistance when she will take it. Using tact, compassion and motherly wisdom, you can continue to build a loving relationship with your tween.

Peer Pressure

  • Peer pressure is a fact of your tween’s life. She worries about fitting in, being the right size, reading the popular books and movies. Her friends’ opinions could mean more to her than yours. Talk to her about what her friends are doing. Give her an out by taking the rap for refusing to let her date too early, go to inappropriate parties and experiment with drugs or alcohol. Tell her, “You can say that your mom will kill you if you do that.” Do provide clear reasons why you have to say “no” to a request to go to an event and say “yes” as often as you feel you can.

Puberty Changes

  • Your tween’s body is changing and girls tend to dread these and other adolescent changes, according to psychologist Dr. Laura Marklah of Aha! Menarche, her first period, occurs a couple of years after her breasts begin to grow. She could notice more oil on her face, hair and body, body hair growth, more perspiration and a growth spurt that causes her to stand taller than boys in her class. Help her celebrate these changes with some new clothes or a celebration that recognizes she is maturing. Talk to her about the physical and emotional changes she will face in the coming years. Provide sanitary supplies before she needs them and talk about keeping supplies in her school locker and backpack. You can discuss dating, boys and relationship changes periodically to stay abreast of what your tween is thinking and concerned about.

Freedom and Responsibility

  • Your tween is ready for more freedom and more responsibility and the tween years are a time when your daughter will be looking for ways to be more independent, according to Markahm. Realize that she won’t agree with everything you say or the reasons why you do what you do, but she may be more amenable to new chores and responsibilities if you accommodate her desire for more freedom. Ask her, “What types of freedoms do you want that you don’t have? What are you willing to do to get them?” She could ask for a later bedtime, a computer in her room, a cell phone or freedom to participate in an group or sport. You could say “yes” to one or more of these requests by requiring her do her own laundry, help with house cleaning or other responsibilities. Make this an opportunity to negotiate a win-win for both of you.

Role Model

  • Your tween takes her cues from you. If you feel comfortable about your body, eat healthy and exercise, your daughter will more likely have a healthy self image, eat healthy and exercise, writes Markham. Join a gym class together and support her by attending her team sport events. Tell her how beautiful she is and how special she is to you. You can model good behavior, too. When she gets angry with you, model calm and respectful behavior and insist that she maintain civil behavior. Hug her and show her how to build healthy relationships.


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