Tweens, temper tantrums, and what I want to remember today.


My oldest daughter and I seem to be butting heads lately.  It isn’t a major issue between us, thankfully, but rather several small things (usually misunderstandings) that sneak in to our days and take root so that over the course of a day we’ve gone from a pleasant “good morning” and happy chatting over breakfast to a tearful “good night” after a day of bruised feelings.

When we are getting along, it is pretty fantastic!  She’s really a cool kid to hang out with.  I’m blessed as a parent, and I don’t forget that, even on those days when it seems like all we do is run over each others hearts.

Some of it is her, these prickly in-between years and all the changes and challenges that they bring.

Some of it is me, forgetting how to speak her language, forgetting that even big kids are still kids.

dirtroadsI don’t think she means to come across as disrespectful as she does at times and I know I don’t mean to come across as harsh.  It is more than a little humbling to hear my own sarcastic tone mimicked back to me.

Her growing pains are a vivid reminder at how much growing up I still have left to do myself, even at almost forty years old.

Perhaps we both need to extend each other some grace, but I need to remember that in order to be the good example, I have to extend that forgiveness first, even when (especially when) I don’t feel like it.

I need to remember not to take the eye rolls and her muttering under her breath personally, in the same way I don’t take my two year old’s temper tantrums personally because I know this is a phase, a plotted course on the road to growing up.

But, it isn’t easy.  (Dark chocolate was made for moms of tweens and toddlers, right?)

And so today I want to remember to lecture less and listen more. 

Today I want to radiate warmth to my child, even if she’s giving me the cold shoulder.

Today I want to be quicker to forgive, more understanding, more patient.

Today I want, very simply, to try and remember what it was like to be eleven years old.

At the end of the day, I want our “good night” to be as heartfelt as our “good morning” even if there are a hundred imperfect moments in between.

And, if today is not a peaceful day, if we lose our way despite my best efforts, then I promise to let the failures go, forgive us both, and try again tomorrow and for all the tomorrows after.  Even if I run out of dark chocolate.

Are any of you currently parenting in the trenches with toddlers and tweens? Tell me, friends, how are you getting through the days with grace and warmth? What do you remind yourself of during the challenging seasons of parenting?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. Good morning! I don’t have a tween (my boys are 3 & 8) , but I feel so much of what you write. From my poor tone echoed back at me, to knowing I still need to grow up too. I have been listening/reading a lot of Marianne Williamson and some of her words are becoming a mantra for me:

    The only thing lacking in any situation is that which we are not giving.
    Every action is either love, or a call for love (if it is a call, give them more love!)
    Whatever you send out into the world, is what comes back to you.

    With love,
    From our first day of homeschool (please send out a prayer!????)

  2. This one is well-timed, friend. And I have several friends to pass it along to. We all seem to be butting heads with our (sweet, spunky, sassy) girls these days. (Sigh.)
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy´s latest post: Best book you’ve never heard of on … the daily grind

  3. Thank you for that, I can so relate. My 11 yr old girl is nearly 12 (she has a twin brother) and being fairly emotional, thinks I give him preference. Really tough having different sexes at the same age in the same house plus a 4 yr old! I try to show my daughter equal love but I often find her rolling her eyes at me and muttering under her breath and one needs to remember that this too is just a phase! In many ways it is such an amazing age and I don’t need to remind myself that. Thank you for this today!

  4. As a mom of a 21, 18 and 16 year old, I have to say I think age 11 was the hardest with all of them. So often, I would find myself thinking– If it’s this bad now, what will it be like when they are teenagers? We worked hard on good communication and mutual respect and the teenage years have been easier and so good! Something (necessary) about age 11…hope things will keep improving for you!
    Alyssa´s latest post: “You’ll Be in My Heart”

    • I’m so glad to hear this – lol! I have a 15-yr-old daughter & an 11-yr-old daughter. My 15-yr-old never went through a difficult phase. Ever. She was the easiest toddler on the planet, and is the easiest teenager as well. She’s very easy going & even-tempered and has NEVER talked back, muttered, rolled her eyes, ect… My 11-yr-old, however, is more “normal”, for lack of a better word. Since she turned 11, it seems like every day is a fight. She goes from being a sweet little girl one minute to a snarky teenager the next. It gives me hope to hear that other 11-yr-olds have gone through it and come out human – lol!!

    • Alyssa, THANK YOU! This was so encouraging to read 🙂

      Yes, those boundaries that need to be, and yet can be so hard to be, set right now is one of the hardest parts for me at this age. It is good to hear that this will be a good base in the future (and that it gets better).

      Thank you!
      Kara´s latest post: Tweens, temper tantrums, and what I want to remember today.

  5. Colleen M. says:

    Thank you Kara for publishing this. It spoke to my heart. My 10 daughter and I seem to go from fabulous to frenzied in 2.5 seconds. All it takes is the wrong word, phrase, action…. and boom-off we go again. A wise Mother on 12 children reminded me gently this weekend that they are just “who they are”, just as we are “only who we are”. Our job is not to change them, but rather nurture, love and teach them. The comments above echo what I have heard, that this is another phase of child development (and this too shall pass). (But I will confess that I will take my 3 year old’s temper tantrum over my 10 year old’s drama)

  6. My struggle comes not in remembering to love her, understand her in those snarky moments–but in trying to figure out HOW to teach her, nurture her in those moments. I know somewhere in all of this I have a mom job to do–to teach her to be kind, to be respectful, to guide her away from sarcastic, eye rolling behavior–but HOW??! I feel myself going back and forth between trying to show her love (hugs) and punishments (ie no playdate today) but I don’t feel like I have an adequate, appropriate response to all of this snarkiness that feels like I’m lovingly teaching her better behavior. It’s just one day of fighting after another –but I don’t want to be too permissive either :/

  7. I really appreciate you posts you have done about the changing relationship with your oldest daughter. It has really caught me off guard as puberty is hitting earlier. As a 10 year old I was still playing with dolls and dress up, but with my daughter we are buying bras and panty liners preparing for what will probably happen this year in 5th grade. It doesn’t help either that my girl is a petite one adopted from India and is more the size of a 2nd or 3rd grader. I do love the medicinal properties of dark chocolate and I think this will be the year that I stock a years supply for survival.
    More grace for us all!

    • Thank you, my just 8 year old is starting some of this behaviour, she is also petite, she can fit in most of her 4 year old sisters clothes. She also lost her teeth early bizarrely. Anyway I digress. Thank you for the chocolate reminder.

  8. Thank you for this…in a season of a 10 year old and an almost 6 year old with utterly opposite temperaments and me trying to keep peace and calm at every moment. Hoping to embrace the inevitable conflicts with me and each other with grace, humility, resilience, and a big dose of humor. Wising the same to you all!
    Laura Becher´s latest post: forgiveness, flexibility, and frequent looks

  9. This definitely hits home! I have a twelve year old daughter and a 5 month old son. I am definitely low on patience and energy these days. I am going to print this post and read it often!

  10. Life is a series of moments – that is what I remind myself. Today is not going to make or break my relationship with any of my daughters. Our eldest daughter turns 18 in a month and a half and I look back on what we have traveled through and am amazed we are where we are. Honestly, I did not think our relationship would survive, but here we are and our relationship is strong.

    I am now looking forward to our second daughter turning 11 in December. And I do mean looking forward to it, I must. If I allow the negative now, it will be a lot rougher.

    Here I am cheering on another in the tween years with a little sister just two years behind her.

    I so appreciate what you said about ending the day like you started with love no matter what has happened in between.

  11. When I run out of dark chocolate, I run for chocolate chips stuck on top of a spoon full of peanut butter. It works in a pinch. This is a hard stage that I have now entered with all three of my children and still continue to handle day by day as all three of them are becoming more and more independent. It seems like I am always bumping heads with one of them on any given day. I do a lot of removing myself to another room and deep breaths with prayer. I am trying to learn the dance of when I need to cave and when I need to stick up for the issue. It is so hard. So glad for grace.
    Victoria´s latest post: Make Your Own Inexpensive Gratitude Journal

  12. Thank you SO much for this! My going-on-10 years old daughter and I are starting to “butt heads” as you put it and it has been so discouraging to me how mean I’ve been. I have to realize and grow into this new season with her and extend that grace!!

  13. I’ve heard that teenagers are just toddler reincarnated. I can totally see how it’s true; both stages involve kids who are testing their boundaries and discovering their independence.

    I don’t have a tween but have had my bouts with my toddler. I remind myself that everything he does is developmentally correct; it’s normal that he throws a tantrum. What makes it abnormal is in how we react. So if we give in to their every outburst or lash out when they yell, that’s when it becomes more difficult.
    Nina´s latest post: 12 breastfeeding secrets every mom should know

  14. This is my first visit to your blog – found it through another blog’s weekend links. How fitting that this post was the first I saw. My almost 10yo daughter is going through these same things. So much of what you said really hit home with me. Especially the part about how much growing up you still have to do. I always joke with my friends about not knowing what I want to do “when I grow up”. I never thought about that in terms of my parenting. It’s really something for me to think about. I know I am VERY lucky with how generally well-adjusted my kids are, especially after losing their father to cancer five years ago (when DD was only 4 1/2). I really try to remind myself of that when the tween attitude and tantrums kick in. And the worst part for me to swallow is that I know she is just like me. It’s like looking in a mirror. I definitely appreciate my mom so much more for putting up with me when I was that age and really wish she were still here for me to tell her that.

  15. Such a well-timed post for me personally! I’ve been blindsided by 11, thinking that I still had a year or two before my daughter and I hit the bumpy road of adolescence. I love the reminder not to take it personally, as it is, indeed, a phase. I try to be loving no matter what and see the humor in it, as when my 6-year-old dutifully reported back that his sister was “sighing SO loud about you” in her bedroom. I’m also trying to remember to be extra present and thankful when the sweeter side prevails, as when she asked to sit on my lap on a hayride last week.
    Angie S.´s latest post: Take a Child Outside Week {September 24-30, 2013}


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