SOURCE: Degree

September 13, 2012 10:54 ET

Straight Talk With Your Tween

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Sep 13, 2012) - (Family Features) As the parent of a tween, do you find yourself saying things like, "It wasn't like this when I was that age?" You're not alone.

The Unilever Tween Confidence Index, a survey that provides a snapshot of confidence levels among tween girls and boys, found that 77 percent of moms say their 8- to 12-year-olds are facing more challenges today than they did when they were that age. What are moms concerned about?

  • Being overly exposed to sex and violence (86 percent)
  • Facing more pressure to grow up faster (75 percent)
  • Not doing well in school (60 percent)
  • Being challenged to eat healthy (55 percent)
  • Not safely using the internet (55 percent)

Tweens themselves find plenty to stress over. According to the survey, tweens are most stressed about:

  • Hearing rumors about themselves or friends (68 percent)
  • Dealing with hard teachers (68 percent)
  • Getting good grades (61 percent)
  • Their first kiss (51 percent)

Fortunately for you, a majority of tweens (69 percent) find talking with their parents to be "very helpful" in dealing with the pressures and challenges they face.

"Communication is a critical part of helping tweens make the transition into being confident teens," said Rosalind Wiseman, internationally recognized educator and author of New York Times Best Seller, "Queen Bees and Wannabes." "When you keep the lines of communication open, you can help build their confidence and self-esteem."

Wiseman has some tips to help you talk to your tween about what they're going through:

Location, Location, Location - Chances are, puberty and personal hygiene are embarrassing topics for your tween. Lighten the mood by chatting in a comfortable setting for your child, like when you're walking the dog or taking out the trash.

No Greeting Card Needed - While it may be emotional for you as the parent, try to keep the tone easy and relaxed, because your teen can sense your anxiety and is probably not feeling too comfortable either. Remember this moment when you were their age? It's typically not the most comfortable conversation. Be prepared to have the chat and then move on to other topics after you've said your piece.

Ease in, Ease Out - Feel free to have the conversation in mini talks over a period of time. Maybe it's when you're together bringing the groceries in from the car, or as you're making dinner. The more natural, subtle and informal, the better.

Surprise Delivery - The best way to introduce an otherwise-awkward product to your tween? Make it a quiet surprise. For example, drop a stick of Degree deodorant in their bathroom. Once they've had a chance to use it, check-in a few days later asking how it is working for them. If your tween is extra bashful, leave personal products on their bed in a discrete bag.

Nervousness to Nerves of Steel - The goal is to stay calm, cool and collected to help turn this embarrassing, sometimes difficult, moment into something empowering. Remember how you felt when you were their age, and do your best to relate to what they're going through.

For more tips on helping your tween navigate these years, visit www.facebook.com/DontFretTheSweat and www.facebook.com/DegreeWomen.

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