10 Ways to Connect with Your Tween Daughter (Not Spoiling!)

It’s a natural part of tween life for kids to start pulling away from their parents a little (or sometimes a lot) more.  Exploring new relationships, trying out things that may be different from what mom or dad like, and finding their own way is a good thing!

Here are 10 ways you can help that journey along, be a part of it, encourage it, learn from it, and teach important life skills all the while.  

1. Plan a Day Trip

Research day trips from your town or to a nearby town together.  For young girls, we recommend creating a document or inspiration board to show 5-6 options.  Add a picture, list activities and don’t forget to disclose how much time in the car!  Pick a day. Pick a destination. Go.

Extension:  

  • Write and post a review together.
  • Create a journal entry or scrapbook.
  • Print and frame a photo from the day.

2. Be a Food Critic

Research a new restaurant that one or both of you has been wanting to try, or go to a favorite place and order from a different part of the menu.

Extension:

  • Get a journal and make it a regular thing just between the two of you.  Create a rubric together and score your experience.
  • Write and post a review together online.
  • Create a copycat recipe.

3. Create a Mini Book Club

Read something at the same time.  Ask if you could tag along on a book she’s already reading, get one you think she might be interested in and see if she wants to read it too, choose 5-6 books and present a document or inspiration board to choose from, find a book related to your next or recent vacation.  

Extension:

  • Search online for discussion questions or write your own - throw them into casual conversation.
  • Plan a dinner or tea date and have a more formal discussion.  
  • Write a review together.
  • Watch the movie together.
  • Invite a friend to join at the same time.

4. Blog

Team up 50/50 or support each other.  If you already have a blog, let her guest post or ask a friend to guest post.  Find a blog that fits your lifestyle or interests and ask! Or start one from scratch together.  It’ll serve as a scrapbook, an awesome memory in digital print!

Extension:

  • Point her to some articles on how to start a blog - have her do a little recon for the project.
  • Read a blog together with topics similar to your concept.
  • Plan future articles.
  • Practice typing.

5. Get Tickets

Attend a sporting event, theater in the park, ballet, concert, car show - anything - and invite her to join you!  

Extension:

  • Read a book or watch a movie related to your event.
  • Write a review.
  • Take a class or find a summer camp on topic.

6. Start an E-Commerce Store

Chances are she’s begged you to have a lemonade stand at some point or wanted to peddle random goods or performances from your porch.  This is where you get to say "yes." Plan together, let her draw the logo and graphics, determine the target audience, source products, and give it a go.

Extension:

  • Practice making calls or writing emails.
  • Search for and hire graphic designers or teach her.
  • Design packaging.
  • Work a spreadsheet.
  • Research competitors.

7. Visit the Library

It's not just for story time. Local libraries are always hosting fun community events. Following your library (or several nearby) on social media can help keep you in the loop. We have found everything from STEAM activities, origami instruction, yoga, ukelele, foreign language, and more all free at the library.  

Extension:

  • Often you can check out museum passes to your local museums and visit those for free too!  
  • Find that book for your mini book club.
  • Check out a non-fiction how to book  - endless options here!

8. Hit the Water

Beach, lake, spring, river, stream, creek.  Find some water, get in it or on it. Water is no joke for a calming effect.  Sibling squabbles tend to quiet, developing tween angst subsides, and parents often forget their to-dos that get in the way of quality time.  

Extension:

  • Identify treasures - shells, plants/leaves, birds, fossils, and more to find!
  • Paddle - no more relying on mom or dad to paddle or steer, let her lead the navigation.
  • Paint - take a photo with intention to paint later.

9. Volunteer

There are a few organizations willing to take on young volunteers - food pantries are typically set up to have kids volunteer.  Animal shelters are top kid picks and have various rules, but tweens start to become of age for many. Often, if it’s a place you’re already connected, ask what can my child and I do together? and they will come up with something. But, there are many ways to volunteer without going directly through an organization.  Offer to babysit for a local foster family, make dinner for a deployed friend’s family, help an elderly neighbor around the house/yard, clean up at a park. Chances are your daughter can identify a community need she already cares about and you can help her find a way to make an impact.

Extension activities:

  • Collect supplies, raise or save $/donate to support the cause.
  • Sign up for another session and bring a friend (or group) along.
  • Post details to your social media to help promote the need + the solution.

10. Make Doing Nothing, Something

Remember those days (prior to having kids!) of doing nothing?  Bonding time with roommates, boyfriends/girlfriends, our own parents.  Sitting around the house or lounging outside - maybe you read a bit, watched a bit, ate a bit, put some things away, played cards - you can’t really detail because it wasn’t really special, but you remember the feelings - the relaxation, the calm, the love.  Take away the performance, the pressure, the forward moving on-the-go mentality and just BE.

Extension:

  • Hug it out
  • Account for nothing
  • Note the sights and smells
  • Make eye contact
  • Share a hammock

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