14 Essential Truths About Raising Tween Girls

1. Her personality has arrived. My tween has a more defined silliness and sarcasm, a sense of style, and stronger opinions about her clothes and her activities and the ways she wants to spend her time. Some of this is negotiable and some of it isn’t — I expect her to be present for family activities and I don’t have a problem vetoing weather inappropriate clothing, but I respect her need to figure out how she presents herself to the world — even (especially?) if it’s different than I would have imagined.

2. She’s sweet. And kind. And empathetic. Tweens and teens have a bad reputation. Yes, there’s moodiness sometimes, but that’s true of all of us, isn’t it? I think what we parents are really feeling when we cry, “Teen Surliness!” is the shift from little to big, ours to independent. When we’re able to loosen our grip on their smallness, we’re privy to an amazing person right in front of our eyes. There’s an unparalleled kindness and empathy to this age group. Nurture that, it makes the world go round.

3. Faith in her is key. There’s a place for worrying and, goodness knows, I’m good at it. But in my heart of hearts I know that worrying sends the subtle message that, “I don’t think you can do this.” And I’d rather (loudly) suggest, “I believe in you.”

4. She’s still learning. She’s going to make mistakes. It is your job to help her learn from them, fix them, and do more good in this world than harm. That’s not “helicoptering,” it’s “parenting.”

5. She still needs you. I’m awe-struck by my tween’s independence daily and it’s easy to think, “She’s got this.” But when we’re home at the same time, I make myself available to her. I might just be doling out snacks when she gets home or sitting on the couch while she does homework or out back while she’s “hanging out,” but I’m there. And every single day, at some random, often inconvenient, time she tells or asks or shares something I would have missed if I chose to be someplace else.

6. You’ll never regret advocating for her. I believe this with every fiber of my being. I have not once regretted advocating for her or helping her form the words to advocate for herself. But I do regret the times that, for a variety of truly unimportant reasons, I didn’t do this. Even if you speak too soon or too loud or you need to backtrack later, who cares? She’ll feel less alone as she maneuvers this world. And that’s part of your job.

7. She’s sensitive. That newfound sarcasm might make her heart seem tough, but it’s not. With growth and change, comes vulnerability. Joking shouldn’t cross over to teasing, and if you’re lucky and she’s let you in on her worries, never take advantage of that and use them against her.

8. She craves your approval. It might not seem like it, but she does. Give it to her freely.

9. You’re creating her framework for intimacy. How you treat people and how you let people treat you is what she’ll know as normal. Be mindful and intentional about that. This includes how you talk to and about her, yourself, and others.

10. She gets and knows and is exposed to so much more than you’d ever guess, and than she lets on. Never “dumb down” your conversations. Share with her happy things and hard things and important things. Model a good debate, a strong reaction, smart questions, and kind (re)actions.

11. She’s watching you for clues on how to maneuver this world as a woman. Strong, smart, and empathetic are golden. The way these play out for you doesn’t really matter; it’ll look different for all of us. But follow your passions, speak your mind, and see your own value. She’ll mirror you.

12. There’s a ridiculous amount of goodness to her — she needs to hear that. Tell her directly and often and without worrying about spoiling her. Compliments should be given daily and freely and with wild abandon.

13. Don’t shy away from hard conversations — periods, boys, sex, sexuality, depression, alcohol, drugs, OTCsafety, kindness, bullying, friendship — it’s a privilege to be the soft landing and the hard message sender. Act like it.

14. Be her biggest fan. Everyone deserves at least one person in their lives who thinks they hung the moon. Fill her heart with shared moments and words and presence and the knowledge that you’re that person.


This list is more gender universal than not. But, for right now, I only know tween girls so that’s where my focus is.

Some great resources for raising tween girls include:

A Mighty Girl is a resource site to help support and celebrate girls. They share quotes and books and toys and examples of and for strong girls.

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves. Their motto is: Change the World by Being Yourself.

Tween Us is a smartly written blog focused on parenting tweens. The topics are relevant, the writing is stellar, and the messages are direct.

#ToMyTeen is a new site based on the philosophy that what we think of our kids matters to them and that kids who know their parents think highly of them make better choices. You can upload your messages to your teen right on the site. I have, join me.

OTCsafety is my go to site for learning about the things my kids are exposed to that I need to be in the know about. Take a look at their most recent infographic about how to approach tough conversations about over the counter medicine safety. Then, go have those conversations.


I’m paid as an OTCsafety blogging ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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  1. Yes, yes and yes! Having a tween daughter myself, I can definitely say that it isn’t always easy, but it is always wonderful. Her personality has definitely arrived. We’re seeing her become her own person and no matter how silly and unique, we wouldn’t have it any other way. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to be open about talking about the hard things (puberty, boys, etc). When I offer advice, often before she even asks for it, makes her more willing to come to me and feel comfortable talking about those uncomfortable things.

  2. I’m bookmarking this, because so much wisdom, Galit.
    #9 rings so true.
    #14, so important.


  1. […] 14 Essential Truths About Raising Tween Girls: This sweet list from Galit Breen who blogs at These Little Waves is a great reminder to stay engaged with our girls as they grow. […]

  2. […] first heard about #ToMyTween from my friend Galit Breen, author of These Little Waves, who posted her photo on her Facebook page declaring her tween to be kind. and I wanted to […]

  3. […] 14 Essential Truths About Raising Tween Girls […]