The Science of Parenting

Preteens | S.5 Ep. 6

May 13, 2021 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 5 Episode 6
The Science of Parenting
Preteens | S.5 Ep. 6
Show Notes Transcript

As your child grows into a preteen, help ease the transition with an honest, direct approach. Learn how to embrace this ultimate transition period.

Send us an email: parenting@iastate.edu.
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson:

Welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast, where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Korthals:

And I'm Lori Korthals, parent of three in three, two different life stages. Tomorrow is the day I will have two launched and one in high school. So super yay to me to two different life stages. And having two launched right well, tomorrow. It counts, totally counts. So today, we are not talking about launched children. Now we are talking about preteens.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We sure are. And I mean, yeah, just working through these one by one, right? From babies. Now we're all the way up to preteens. And we were just looking at how we parent these kids of different ages. We're looking at their developmental milestones, what they can do, or kind of what they're going through - listen to my rhyme - what they can't do, what they're going through. Oh, rhymey. But basically, we just want to remind everybody, we know that all kids develop at their own pace. We're talking about typically developing kids and what they tend to go through at certain ages. But we're gonna look at the big picture. Our job is really just to provide research-based information for you to help inform your parenting.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, and remember to please recognize that there are many factors that impact the rate of development in children, one of those being temperament. We talked about that in season three. We also look at the environment that children are raised in, their genetics, the people and places and things that happened to them and that they live in. And all those things are impacting the rate of development that, you know, they're reaching their milestones so we do want you to know that if you have concerns about your child's development, we recommend that you talk to your family health care provider or reach out to a local education agency. So let's go ahead and just kick off this preteen episode by defining what age and stage we're talking about. So according to the CDC, this is the ages of 12 to 14. And others might argue that really it's whenever the beginning of puberty is, that's preteen, that really defines this stage.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And like we've said in every episode, there's some debate like years or milestones, what defines it? This one is really kind of unique in that, depending on what resource or research that you're looking at, some like theorists and practitioners, some say preteens are a separate stage. And some say no, it's just the transition between childhood and teenage years. So it's a period of transition for sure. Some define it separately and some don't. Exactly, exactly. So, as you think about it, what would you say? Is it ages? Is it milestones? Is it puberty? What is it?

Lori Korthals:

So when we talked through this whole season, I just kept picturing my girls in middle school, like physically in that building, the middle school building, that they were in. And I also thought about myself and my middle school, which we called junior high. So you know, it was kind of those ages or those grades of school that were six, seven and eight, or in some schools, it's seven and eight or in other schools, it's five, six, seven. So again, that depends, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, I just think so much of it's just the transition. Like it's the body and the mind and all this stuff, transitioning from a kid into the more beginning stages of adulthood. Yes, it's still transitioning, so I might, yeah. All of it. Yes to all of it. Yes to the transition. Yes to the building.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah. And I think that as we've talked through these with our writer and with our producer, one of the things that we brought up was, gosh, this age of transition could really be real negative. Like we can really focus on the negative because so much is happening. But there are a lot of really positive and important things that are happening during this transition. So, while these transitions and changes, you know, people don't like change, right? This is a huge change from, like you said, from middle childhood, late childhood to that early adulthood. So, yeah, we just have to remember to really keep focusing on everything's changing. But there's a lot of really great changes happening as well.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And there's actually a saying that I've heard related to transition changes. Actually it was when I was coming back from maternity leave. And so it just really struck me because I was in a period of transition. But it was talking about change versus transition, that they're different things. And they were talking about, it's not like the change may not be what's hard, right? We want our kids to become adults, we want them to become more responsible, better problem solvers, all of these things. And the transition can be hard. Like it's this period of in between where we feel like we don't know what's going on and we're fumbling, that can be hard. But they're still even in the fumbling. There's so much great stuff. Yes, there is.

Lori Korthals:

And if you think about it, this might be one of those first stages that as a parent, we have a lot more memories of. We can maybe remember some things from elementary school, maybe even a few things from preschool, but we can probably really remember quite a bit about those preteen years. And there might be quite a bit that we hope doesn't have to happen to our own children, those feelings that we had about those transitions.

Mackenzie Johnson:

From when we were growing up.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly, so we also have to take into consideration what feelings and memories are we pulling back into how we're parenting? Oh, yeah. So are we ready to talk about the different categories and domains?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Let's do it. Okay.

Lori Korthals:

So when we have been looking at these changes and milestones, we've been looking at these categories as typically occurring experience across those domains about the same timeframe. But remember, every child is different. And we actually found this a bit tougher because our favorite research-based resources didn't actually necessarily pull out this idea of preteens as a separate stage. But our experience as parents and the experiences of our friends and family members, we just really felt like we kind of want to talk about this stage separately.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So every week this season, we've kind of leaned into a text on child development by Patterson. And this was not a separate stage in that text. And so we're kind of punting, which I feel like is very appropriate for a preteen parent. So instead, we're gonna focus on some really great research based information from the CDC, or the Center for Disease Control. And, you know, basically, there's just, there's a lot of change, right? There is social, physical, all of it, lots of domains to cover. So should we dive in with that physical, Lori?

Lori Korthals:

Let's dive in with physical. So I like to think of the physical changes as both internal and external, obviously, right? So those external changes in preteens, we're starting to see things change, right? We're seeing body hair in places that didn't have body hair before. We're seeing physical changes in the shape of their body, the way their body works. And if we think about the changes physically that happen in preteens, this might be where you see children growing four inches in a year. Their clothes don't fit from September till January or May. And again, this is transition. It's not always gonna be this fast rate of physical development, but it's a transition. And I love what you said about as the parent of preteen, everything is different and we haven't experienced this before. And so preteens have not experienced these changes of their body like this before either. And internally, I of course love the brain development changes that are happening in the preteen always. That is so important for us as parents to really consider. The preteen brain, it's still making connections, the roads and the pathways are still being formed. But we're talking about the 12 to 14 year old, right? And we said the brain is not fully developed till 25. So guess what? Their brain is only at the halfway point, halfway. That's it. And on top of it being just the halfway point, the internal changes based on all the hormones that are racing through their body. Literally, I like to think about the hormones as sleep and ice and snow. And oh, yes, if you live in a place with sleet and ice and snow at any point of the year. You know what happens to the roads and the pathways? They're still there. You know that those roads are there for you to drive on. But you can't find them. They're missing. They're slippery and you slide right off them. And that's really what can happen with the information in a preteen's brain. So they maybe knew the right answer at two o'clock. But based on the

hormone rush at 6:

30 pm, that answer is gone. They cannot make a correct decision because of the hormones that just iced over their pathway. One of my favorite people is an educator of middle schoolers, and she says, you know, it takes a really special person to be the educator of a preteen. And somehow, I got to be that special person. And she says it with a laugh, but she is. She is experienced in educating every day that preteen brain where they knew at one minute and the next minute, it's as if they've never experienced it in their lifetime.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, and the other thing I love about that word picture of ice on the roads or hormones messing with the neural pathways, even experienced drivers can go in the ditch. It seemed like they had it together? Yes, definitely. Those hormones. It's like fall off the road like no, I don't do things that way anymore. It's almost like a little regression, like a little bit like, oh, this is not working quite right anymore.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, that Jeckell and Hyde, which we talk about that when you get to emotions, or when I get to emotions, or whatever. But, you know, all of these things that are changing and transitioning.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And another big one we see is related to their self awareness. And we've never pulled this out as a separate domain before. But it's a huge part of what's happening with preteens, right? Like holy cow, I picture the preteen standing in front of the mirror. I just think, I am of the age that they were mirror selfies for me with my digital camera. So that is what I picture when I think of the self awareness. But really what's happening with them is they have more concern, they're more aware of the people around them. They're more concerned about their body, right? Yeah, it's changing and I'm kind of measuring that by the people around me. Are their bodies changing? Am I early to these changes? Am I late? I might feel self conscious either way, right, whether they're early or late. And so there's just so much self awareness about their looks and their clothes and their body. Which means they can be more prone to societal influence or pressure around what they feel like that they're supposed to look like, you know, like eating problems, big concerns about their body, or their clothes, things like that. And then the other thing is we talked about how preschoolers and toddlers are pretty egotistical, they're pretty focused on themselves. That kind of happens here again, really focused on themselves and how they present themselves to the world. But also, they do this kind of like, the word I want is oscillate, like a fan. They do this back and forth between, I'm super confident and I have very high expectations of myself. And oh my gosh, I'm such a loser and I don't believe in myself at all. I don't know what's going on. A huge oscillation in how they feel about themselves.

Lori Korthals:

Oh, yeah. So, awareness. And I think that self awareness, again, my educator friend of the reality of what the middle school hallway smells like after gym class. It's a mix of gym class body odors and body spray to cover it up. You know, just that whole self aware. They're self aware that they just had gym class, and now they're spraying half a bottle. That transition. Yes, it is. Yes, which brings us to emotions, right? All those hormones that are racing around inside of their body. The reality is that those hormones create opportunities for more moodiness and bigger emotions, lots of big emotions, anger, sadness, depression. And as the parent of a preteen, it's really important for us to not diminish the reality of how those emotions feel to our preteen. They feel big to them. And so more important is for us to acknowledge that they feel big, and then have a conversation about how it's perceived versus maybe the reality of that importance. Just acknowledging that yes, they can feel these big emotions. They might feel more stress from school. Things might feel more challenging than we as the adult, perceive that they could be. And so it's really important just for us to acknowledge the bigness of those emotions. And again, this idea of measuring. They're beginning to measure themselves against their peers, and we all grow differently and at different rates. And so we also might need to remind them that while you know, this child's emotions might be this way, we grow at different rates, and our friends' emotions might be at a different space than ours.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And honestly, I can't, I can't not talk about temperament. It's coming to my brain so strongly as we think about emotions. And you might remember from season three, where we talked all about temperament. One of my favorite traits is intensity and thinking about the emotions of preteens. And as a high intensity person, I'm thinking about the way that that's expressed, like the frustration of a preteen that's intense might be slamming doors. But what of the frustration of a preteen who's less intense. It's not that they're not having those hormone surges and not having the emotions. But I'm always thinking like, the recluse, the hide in my bedroom kind of frustration and turmoil rather than slam my door. Exactly. I want to hear what you have to say about the intensity of a preteen and the emotional changes.

Lori Korthals:

My intensity is less than yours, obviously. Right? We've talked about that. Not obviously, but we have talked about it. It is obvious. And I do definitely think that when I had those strong, intense emotions, as a preteen I did, I was in my room. And my bubble over just took longer. But you know, when those intense emotions finally came out, woo, you know, it was a big deal. And I might end up surprising people because they had no idea because I hadn't been as intense. And I didn't know wear those emotions all over my sleeve until the end moments. So yeah, and I see that in my own girls as well that, you know, their levels of intensity are different. And so in those preteen years, you know, the more intense children did have louder slamming doors, and when the less intense children finally bubbled over, we paid attention.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, like, Oh, this is very big, big. It just occurred to me. I'm like, oh, my gosh. Alright, well, socially as we think about the changes that our preteens are going through. We know that their friends start to have a little more influence in their lives, right? They are very interested and influenced by their friends. We also know that sometimes during this stage, they might start showing less affection for us as parents. It doesn't mean we're not important. It doesn't mean we're not influencing them. You know, I like to think of influence is not like a pie chart. It's not a circle that in the beginning as an infant, parents fill up the whole thing, or then as a toddler, right? It's not a pie chart. Their friends influencing them is not meaning they don't care what you think. Exactly. I just like to point that out for people. It just they're taking in more realms of influence than they used to. And the other thing that can be interesting for parenting a preteen is that, you know, in school age and in preschool, they tended to prefer some similar gender groups. Now as preteens, we start to see some more mixed gender groups. And so that can increase some interest in dating, right?

Lori Korthals:

Oh my goodness, yes. The dating. I love that. Because when we think of dating as adults, that is not what it means to a preteen. Let me just share that experience with you right away. When they come home and say so and so we're dating. It's not what we're thinking in our minds. And so it might be a great time to have a conversation about oh, well, tell me more. Tell me more. Exactly, yes. Which leads us to that last category, or last domain, which is that thinking and learning domain. And I'd like to think of this one as elementary school, middle to late childhood 2.0. So they've started those processes of thinking and thinking more deeply about things and problem solving deeper. And now we just have more opportunity for more complex thoughts. This gives us more opportunity for more complex conversations. I think our producer, Kenzie, was saying that she can have longer conversations with her niece because of this preteen stage. And then also then means that their arguments with us can be more complex, right? Which again, gives us more opportunities for conversations, especially because they are developing a stronger sense of right and wrong. And so they might have some, you know, strong arguments about, that was not fair, mom, when the teacher made us all stay in from the only recess we get as middle schoolers because this back row of kids was talking but we all had to stay in, mom. You know, so these preteens, they're starting to think more deeply about that justice and fairness and what they have opinions about, just that 2.0, bigger and more.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, I love that. I love that idea of it's just more complex in preteen 2.0. We have that. So we've walked through all these different domains, ways that our preteens have been changing, will continue to change, a lot of this idea of transition. So in your own experience, what about it stands out to you? You've had preteens in your home.

Lori Korthals:

Three preteens have gone through this house. Yes, they have. So I honestly have to think about some of the I like that question. funniest conversations have honestly been around that whole idea of what is dating to a 12 to 14 year old. And, again, just a clarification, dating is not what you currently have in your mind as an adult and as a parent It actually could be as brie as two hours of from math class to spelling, when all of a sudde they are not dating anymo e. You know, they've never lef the school building. Rarely d es it last two months or two weeks. It's just that whole id a of what we can do as parents o this stage is just keep askin for clarifying questions bout what that means to you. Ex ctly. You know, right down to the questions that we talked abo t, you know, those body chan es. Tell me what that means to you exactly. Yeah, clarifications. Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

That seems like a good thing. That sounds like a good idea.

Lori Korthals:

Let's not assume in this age of transitions.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. I'll say I don't have preteens and so in terms of parenting one, not there yet.

Lori Korthals:

What are you worried about?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I used to joke that like, oh, my parents, when I have preteens, I won't freak out. Okay, so I think part of the reason that maybe I felt that way a little bit, I was unsure about parenting a preteen. Because what I tend to think of is the awkwardness. They might feel awkward in their bodies and their friends, they might feel unsure about their friends. And honestly even the awkwardness of the conversations we are now having in terms of how their body is changing and in terms of these big important topics around family values, and the decisions they'll make and the choices of the things that are involved in it. And so I think kind of awkwardness is what comes to mind, which like, I think that's okay. Like, we'll pull through. I'm not going to opt out when my kids are preteens. I'll opt in.

Lori Korthals:

You'll be here.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'll be here. But yes, awkwardness is kind of what comes to mind for me. Yes. Okay. That's nice. It is.

Lori Korthals:

Oh, all right. So guidance strategies for the parents of preteens.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, we are The Science of Parenting, right? Like we are parenting preteens. And so we like being able to understand kind of what's going on with them, what are they going through, but also what o I do about that? How can I gui e them through this? And so ever week so far this season, we've been able to tap into our frie d, Dr. Diana Lange, with some of her great one liners, but aga n, this was one of those tim s where she didn't have pre eens separated out as a separa e part of development. And o Lori and I are gonna, this is gonna be reality. These are no our trustworthy research-based

Lori Korthals:

Are you ready? info. But in your opinio , Lori, what is a one liner ou might have for describ ng how to parent preteens. I'm xcited to hear it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'm ready.

Lori Korthals:

I've been working on the delivery of this. Just when you had them all figured out...then along come the preteen years.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So if you're fumbling that's good, exactly. Oh, that's funny. Okay, so thinking about this idea of transition, right? We talk about that alot. But that this is not destiny, this is a transition. Yes, this is the journey along the way from our kids moving from kids into teens into adults. And so, grace required.

Lori Korthals:

Lots of grace.

Mackenzie Johnson:

This is not the ultimate destination. This is the transition. Grace required.

Lori Korthals:

And grace for you as a parent. Grace for you as a parent.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Even if you've had preteens before, how this specific child is as a preteen is still kind of a first time, kind of your first time parenting this child as a preteen and how they're changing and what they're going through. So yeah, grace for yourself, grace for your kids. It's a transition. We're figuring it out.

Lori Korthals:

One hundred percent. And because our preteens are in such a period of transition, we're looking at llen Galinsky and her parentin stages this season. And she alks again about this idea f transition for preteens doe n't necessarily pull it out. But this stage before this was he interpretive stage. So we wer interpreting the world for ou late childhood. And t en next week in the teens, we ill talk about the shared decisi n making. And so between interp etation and shared decision m king, is what? And so we're gon a pull some things in ourselv s again, here. So our rea ity is for me, my, what I wou d say role as a parent, in bet een interpreting and shared de ision making is that whole idea of communication with grace. I have to, as a parent I'm communi ating more and more, but I m giving myself grace as a par nt because just like you said, 've never parented this partic lar preteen before. I hav to be able to tap into what we alked about in season one, th t repair, be able to say, I miss d that piece up. I'm sorry. I have not parented a preteen l ke you before. That's a good thi g, right? That's not a bad th ng. Like I am practicing. S rry, you're the guinea pig. messed that up. Can we do thi again? And I think just tha reality of being able to say t your preteen, we're on this r ad together, let's communic te more. I think that just give you the opportunity then as you move into shared decision m king to just have opened up a whole bunch of different brand ew really cool doors. Tha 's what I think.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I love that. What comes to mind for me as I'll get ready to move into the stage, eventually, I think of how we interpret the world. We get to practice that a lot with our school-aged kids. Hopefully, they've gotten pretty good at it, or they're better at it. And then we're not quite to the stage of that shared decision making. It's like, how do we balance in between? Okay, what specific strategy can I think of - low stakes practice. Giving them a chance to practice those skills when the consequences maybe aren't huge. Like how we can be safe when we're home alone. What kind of choices we make/ What can they opt into? And so giving them the chance to practice how they interpret the world and the choices they'll choose to make, by giving them some more decisions when the consequences aren't huge, right?

Lori Korthals:

Yeah. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I mean, like a practical, low stakes practice. You can practice it but let's not give it like, you're gonna make these huge decisions on your own behalf

Lori Korthals:

Exactly. Yes. So those are great real life yet. reality examples, right? So bringing us right into our reality strategies. Okay. So there are some really good positive parenting tips from the CDC that gives us more speci ic advice. So we'll share some f those before we bring our p oducer in, right? And so one o the first ones is to reall take this time to be hones and direct with our prete n. They have opportunities for m re complex thought. So reall , you know, we talked last week bout taking the time to talk bout risk taking behav ors, like smoking and drink ng and drugs. And now as the p eteen, that becomes really even ore important. And so being honest and having really impor ant value driven conve sations around those types of th ngs.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. I'm going to lump a couple together here that I think really are about like having an interest and investment in our kids' lives as preteens. Getting to know their friends. Getting to know their friends' parents. Getting involved in their school lives and taking an interest in what's going on with them. Again, we kinda talked about it last week with our school-agers, this idea of involvement. And with a preteen, yes, their friends are a huge part of their world, their school, the things they're involved in, and so getting involved in their lives and showing that interest.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, absolutely. And then a couple others that kind of play together well are to help them make healthy choices, taking into account their own thoughts and feelings, allowing them to have the opportunity to express those thoughts and feelings, and showing how you respect them and how they can respect themselves, and how they can respect others. So helping them make healthy choices and giving them opportunities to practice those healthy choices through the lens of respect.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, for sure. And then when there is conflict, we want to be really clear about our goals and our expectations for our kids, you know. What do we expect from them in terms of grades? What do we expect from them in terms of cleanliness, in terms of hygiene, in terms of showing respect.

Lori Korthals:

You need just a fourth of the bottle not half a bottle of a body spray, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

What are those expectations, but also allowing our preteen to have input on that. You know, how to reach that and how to make those things happen. And so, conflict, you know, at every stage is bound to happen. But especially during this stage of transition, we want to be really clear with our expectations while giving them a chance to have input on the goals and rules that we set.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly. And we do have an opportunity to share other resources with you. We want to share with you some information from our website. You can go check it out on the right hand side of www.scienceofparenting.org. You scroll down towards the bottom, there's a link that says teens. Now I know we're talking about preteens, but if you click on that link, you can get to another section that specifically covers that young teen. We have some great articles and resources there from Dr. Kim Greder. We also would like to direct your attention to a program that Iowa State University Extension and Outreach shares, which is called Strengthening Families 10-14 and that's coordinated by Dr. Cathy Hockaday. And those are some great opportunities to share conversations with your preteen, to look through articles and resources, and then practice some ideas and thoughts with them together and give them opportunities to share with you what they think about those ideas.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Totally and both of those opportunities, if you're nervous about your school-agers becoming preteens. If you're like me and you're nervous about the preteen or even if you're already in them, both of those opportunities can help strengthen your relationship, whether you take that program, the Strengthening Families program for 10-14, or you check out some of our resources on like, early dating and on relationships and stuff like that. Both are just great opportunities to strengthen your relationship with a preteen. So they are good stuff. Well, we've made it through most of our episodes. I'm a little nervous today. This brings us to our section called Stop. Breathe. Talk. where our producer, Mackenzie DeJong comes in. And you know, it's kind of based around this idea of our flagship parenting strategy of stop, breathe, take a breath, and then talk. And so Mackenzie comes in and gets to ask us a question. And we don't know what she's gonna ask.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Alright, so today, I decided to consult an expert. And it wasn't us. An expert in preteens and this expert, not only has had two children of her own go through preteen years, with the second being a little bit more of a difficult one. She is not only an expert because of her own two kids, but because she has also been a middle school teacher for somewhere around 20 years. And it just happens to be my mom. So she is an expert. Right? She's awesome. So I called her and said, I want this question to come from you. And the question that she had, well, it was kind of an observation and then it's kind of gonna go from there. So since she's been in middle school for 20 years, she has seen a change in how kids are finding information. So she knows that like back when I was, you know, back when I was in middle school. Well, she started teaching middle school, and I was like in first or second grade. But way back then, we used floppy disks. I hope everyone knows what a floppy disk is that is listening to this. And now everything is saved to a cloud. Back then it was 30 computers in the library. Now some have one to one. In my mom's classroom, they have enough for everybody in each classroom. But what she's noticed is that technology has interrupted developing some critical thinking and problem solving skills. So I don't know if the question is what can we do to build those critical thinking and problem solving skills? How can we manage technology better, because technology is at our fingertips, that information is at our fingertips, but we also want to develop those skills in our kids. So what can we do? These questions usually come from me and I don't know anything. Now they're coming from somebody who actually knows something.

Lori Korthals:

An interesting thing happened in my house this week and I don't have a preteen. However, what I found interesting is that my teenager, kind of asked the same question. And so she was taking note of how technology was interrupting a social interaction, you know, things that were happening in a friend group. And so that to me kind of plays into this whole idea of what role does technology have? Is it interruption? Or is it just a change in the way we find answers? Is it a change in the way that we think? And so I would kind of pose that question as one of is this just a new and different way of critical thinking? And I don't have that answer. Like I don't, I don't know. Except that one of the things that we've been talking about through this whole episode is communication. And taking the opportunities to ask those questions. Like what does our preteen think about? Because here's the thing. Like, they only know that one way, right? Yeah, that's all they know. And so while we may be stepping back and saying, well, this is different, this doesn't seem right. I'm not sure about this. That's all they know, like they only know one to one computers and having instant access. And so I don't know the answer to that question because I can't see it through their lens. I can only see it through my lens, which was, man, we didn't even have computers. And so I do see, the point of bringing in my daughter's observation was that she is still critically thinking. Her critical thinking comes in different ways. Like she's been critically thinking alongside Google, about different things, when I critically thought without Google, but is one better than the other? I don't know.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I kind of have an observation around your observation of yes, it's just maybe a different means of coming through this stage of critical thinking. But there's a term that comes to mind for me. And because our kids have new access to technology, because that may have not been the case for us to walk around with a smartphone in our hand as a preteen. This idea of we need to teach our kids digital citizenship.

Lori Korthals:

I love that.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We need to teach our kids that social media is curated, right? That when I think about the bodily changes I'm going through and the things I see on social media, that's not necessarily a whole authentic self. And so helping them understand that about social media, helping them understand, you know, even as adults we struggle with what's fact and fiction online? Right, which of these things is real and not real? And so, I agree that it is different because the information is readily available. But what I think that means is that today's parents, we have a new set of skills we need to teach our kids around digital citizenship, how to be safe online, how to use our critical thinking skills online, even understanding ads are trying to get you to do something. Understanding that when there's an ad that comes up, it's not by coincidence. It's people trying to get me to buy something, to do something, to act a certain way. And so I do, I think of teaching those digital citizenship is alongside helping them develop those critical thinking skills.

Lori Korthals:

Oh, that's awesome.

Mackenzie DeJong:

I do love that. There's this bit of critical thinking that comes in that right. Deciphering between what you know, this and that. And that part of the danger is, you know, just going to the internet to find information is that is it true? Is it not true? And you have to be able to get through that. And I think that's one of the things that she sees as a concern is that, you know, just looking it up, or if you ask a simple question, they're just gonna look it up rather than thinking through what might be, which is a very valuable skill. But you can maybe practice that. The other thing is, it's maybe a conversation on how much technology or how often technology should be because she's a middle school teacher, and there are kids with iPads and phones and watches and all of that access to technology. Is it helping? Is it hurting? And it's definitely something that as parents, we, I'm not a parent, but as we go through that to think about how it is helping and hurting. And then how can we teach them that, right? Yep. Like you said.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I also think, you know, I mentioned so as parents, that means we have to, Oh, good, that's one more thing to try to figure out. Yes, that can be a harder thing to add into our plates. But we can also see this newfound level of resourcefulness in a generation that is a digital native, you know, that grew up with this technology. They might have a better sense of, I don't believe everything I hear because I have a way to look it up. So I think like there's a balance, of course, resourcefulness. But I think that is another skill that we can kind of see it's easy to only look at the dark side of it. And there's some positive there, too.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. Excellent question.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Such a good one from experts. Yeah, real life people.

Lori Korthals:

Real life reality.

Mackenzie DeJong:

She is retiring this year. So you know, I had to tap into her while she's still in school.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, yes. Awesome. Well, thanks Kenz. Getting a chance to kind of slow down. Yeah, if I just list off all the things preteens are going through, I might not remember to stop and ask that question. So we talked about this preteen, this kind of this puberty, ages 12 to 14. This period of transition between not yet a teen but also not a kid, you know. Kind of both of those things and lots of change happening here. And we know we want to give lots of grace for ourselves and for them. We want to fumble through the awkwardness and kids are awkward.

Lori Korthals:

We do. It's all awkward.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It's all weird.

Lori Korthals:

It's all awkward. So thank you for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast and remember to subscribe to our weekly audio podcast on Apple or Spotify or your favorite podcast app and watch the show on video each week and join us on Facebook or Twitter at scienceofparent to see our content in your feed.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, please do come along with us as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is hosted by Lori Korthals and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext