Turning Tween: Redefining Nine By Rachela FarellaAug 22, 2023
Getting older, is a natural part of life’s cycle. And as young girls, we count the days until we reach womanhood. Whether it is from infancy to toddlerhood. First smiles, first steps, first haircut. Puberty and hormones. High school adventures. Becoming a teenager-finally! Or better yet, becoming a woman. But why is it, that no one ever talks about turning tween.
What is a tween anyway? Can you truthfully answer this question in one single sentence. The answer is, NO! And I am here to tell you why.
Turning tween, is the stage and phase in every girl’s life, where they no longer need mom and dad for their basic day to day life skills. It’s that time when you finally get a glimpse of who that little toddler used to be, and whom she now has grown to become. A tween is that middle stage. It’s that little moment when, girls go from rocking cute little pigtails to high ponytails. Overalls to jeans. Walking shoes to high tops. And undershirts to bralettes. It’s the moment when your daughter, has officially redefined, what being nine years old is all about.
You will often hear me talk about how I’ve been helping young girls “redefine nine”, and I’m sure many of you are asking the same question. How? I am a big believer in this stage of every young girl’s life. Not only is it one of the most important stages in a young girl’s development, but, it is definitely the most vital for their independence while preparing for teenage-hood.
Did you know, that it is during a young girl’s ninth year where she’ll experience her most profound changes? And did you also know, that these changes will be the most silent ones that she’ll experience in her lifetime? I carefully chose the word silent, because it simply means that as moms, or dads, or even caregivers to these amazing young girls, we won’t really see these changes flourish the way we would with other stages in their lives. For example, we can see a baby change from infant to a toddler or from toddlerhood to preschooler. And while we can see that our girls are growing and maturing; what we tend to notice mostly, is how quickly they transform and bloom into teenagers. Being a tween girl is like the LMNOP part of that alphabet song. We know the letters are there, but somehow, we sing it so quickly that we sort of ignore those letters and muffle right through them. And I bet they you are even singing it right now. Haha!
Now stop and think about it. From the ages of 5-8, our girls are still our little girls. They get taller, get smarter, more active, more fearless and definitely, feistier. But in the midst of all of this, once they turn nine; what we don’t see, is how they’ve become slightly more self conscious, less confident, more cautious and definitely, reserved and insecure. Now, granted, you can have the chattiest daughter who sings while she speaks and dances while she walks, but what you will not see are the little silent changes happenings all at once.
Your little girl is changing. Whether it’s mentally, physically, or emotionally, your little girl is growing up. And the “how” to your question is as simple as this. Patience. Lots and lots of patience and understanding. We as moms (parents), need to remember that your daughter’s world right now is growing from playmates to long term besties. Her circle of friendships are changing as well as her words, thoughts and feelings. She’s officially developing into a young tween. And we need to allow them to do so. This stage in their lives is so important because it is the start of who they are destined to become as young adults. Their mindset, their ideas, their character; it’s all going to help define your amazing little girl.
Redefining Nine is a program/ workshop that I started when my own daughter turned nine. It was a moment in my life where, as a mom, I knew that something was shifting. And I just knew that in a quick blink of an eye, that my baby girl was no longer my baby girl. She will always need me-but on her own terms. She will always ask me for help- but when she’s truly struggling. But most importantly, she will be the one reaching out and letting you know that she doesn’t need you anymore. I remember when my daughter told me, mom, I love that you tuck me in at night, but I don’t need you to lie with me. I think my world stopped so quickly, that I jumped into her bed, threw myself under her covers and tucked myself so close to her that I told her; I will always lie next to you and you can’t stop me. And then we both giggled as I silently cried a few tears in the dark.
When it comes to redefining and understanding what it’s like to be a nine year old girl, it’s actually more complex then we realize. Being nine, twenty years ago, was definitely not the same as being nine years old today. And in order to understand the importance of this incredible milestone, it meant that I had to do my momwork, which included lots of research. I was shocked when I read how life changing this phase really was. As moms, we really need to take the time to stop and truly understand what our girls are going through. When I was a tween, relationships between moms and daughters weren’t as they are today. And speaking from my own experience with my mom, we were definitely not asclose as I am with my own daughters. We didn’t have the hard and honest conversations, but somehow, I just knew. Strict was an understatement. Rules were placed and rules were definitely followed and respected. I didn’t have much growing up, so I learned the value of a dollar from a very young age. And so maturity started really young for me. But, that’s how it was back then. And today, this is how it’s become. And, I am truly grateful that I do have the relationship that I have with my girls, and even more grateful to be their mom in today’s crazy and chaotic world. I have learned to become mindful and not repeat the same mistakes that my mother made, while educating myself to fix and avoid passing on any past generational traumas to my girls.
Now, the actual answer to how you can help redefine nine for young girls is more then just doing one thing. It really starts with taking the time to get to know who your daughter is. It’s watching her carefully and closely. Studying her thought patterns. Doing your momwork and paying attention to all of her finest details. What makes her smile the most? What or who makes her easily frustrated? What triggers her anxiety and insecurities? Who is she? What does she like, or not like? But mostly, what can you do as her mom to support her through this chaotic chapter in her story? So many questions for one tiny little human who calls you mom.
If you can accomplish these simple yet difficult tasks, then you’re on you way to helping your daughter grow into one badass young adult. But in order to do so, she needs to go through all of the ups and downs of being a young girl as well as the crazy roller coaster of emotions ready to erupt at any given moment. And in all of that, the one thing that you can provide her with, which will forever help her, is your presence and understanding. And I’ll say it again and again. Be there for her, even at an arms length and understand her, both inside and out.
Lastly, encourage but never discourage her. Challenge her and set empowering goals for her. Be sure to have those hard and honest conversations. Be present, but also keep your distance. Allow her to form her own opinions and ideas but also include her in anything family related. Shower her with positive words and surround her with positive energy. Be firm, be strict. Don’t forget that you are still her mom. Set healthy boundaries but also teach her about safe boundaries. But most importantly, always let her know, that no matter what, YOU will always be just an arms length away and that your love for her will always and forever be, your greatest love. Always tell her how much you love and appreciate her. Make her know, that she means the world to you. Even if it’s by bugging her and teasing her. Love should always surround her, because if there is one thing that our daughters need the most of, it’s pure and honest love from a parent.
So, with all this said. Your daughter has finally got her wings. And now, it’s time to let her fly. It’s time to watch her grow and use all of the tools that you have provided her with, because before you know it, she will be on her way.
This is the start of a brand new relationship for you both. And it’s always important to remember, that you are truly helping your daughter, redefine being nine.
~Rachela Farella - FearlesslyGiRL Facilitator & Founder of FearlesslyKiND Girl
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