When tweens begin to set priority on friends and activities, you can help them understand that what they are doing is not the family's main priority. Here are some ideas for training them to find the right balance within their new social life:
Driving Miss Tween
Tweens often assume their parents will drive them to any movie theater, shopping mall or birthday party they want to attend. Naturally, I didn't mind driving my daughter to a school event or youth group meeting, but she needed to know I was not at her beck and call.
We set up some ground rules. If it took me 15 minutes to drive to the mall, she needed to spend 15 minutes vacuuming the car, walking the dog or doing another chore. She quickly gained an appreciation for my time and no longer saw me as her personal chauffeur.
Balancing Family and Friends
Tweens typically want to hang out with friends every weekend, so setting ground rules can help a tween learn to balance family time and her social calendar. One mother sets a clear expectation. "If my child asks to have a friend over with the friend standing next to her, the answer is always no." If asked ahead of time, she’ll consider it. Her tween learns to respect Mom’s time and her decision.
To accommodate this need for friendship and allow for family time, some families let children invite friends — one per child — to outings. Others alternate every Saturday between letting their tween have a friend over and going to a friend's house.
—Bridget A. Nelan