Guys, I have some super exciting news to share. My son recently turned 10 and now officially knows EVERYTHING. Yep. Everything. I don’t have to tell him anything anymore because he already knows it.
He now knows more than I do, more than his teachers do, more than anyone on the planet. How amazing for him, right? I couldn’t be more proud.
Except, of course, he’s 10. And he knows maybe 50 more things than he did when he was nine. But, as I am now discovering, 10-year-old boys seem to think they know it all.
And that’s just the beginning…
10-year-old territory; another challenging year for boys
Two years ago I shared a story on my eight-year-old son, who was going through the “emotional eights” as parenting experts like to call it. I tackled this milestone with patience, persistence and heaps of pinot noir and we both made it out alive. Hooray for us.
Well, now he’s 10. And he’s officially entered the tricky 10s, as I like to call it. Once again, my son is transforming before my eyes, both emotionally and physically. And, once again, I have no idea what I’m doing.
Good thing we have parenting experts, like paediatric nurse Ariella Lew from Melbourne-based Kids on Track Paediatric Consultancy to help make sense of it all.
According to Ariella,
10 is often a tricky age for kids – they are starting to feel that they are no longer children but are unsure about how to create more independence and have the confidence to try.
Boys, in particular, feel pressure to behave a certain way based on the examples they have seen from adults in their lives or the media when it comes to expressing their emotions or looking cool.”
Mother no longer knows best
Don’t get me wrong, my 10-year-old is still a sweetheart. A tall, sweaty, hungry sweetheart. But he has a hard time accepting that what I say goes.
Can you please make your bed? It’s just going to be messy again tonight
Can you please put out the rubbish? How come I have to do that?
It’s time to do your homework. I can do it later.
Basically, he wants to do anything other than what I am asking him to do. This new level of questioning and defiance is incredibly common and part of the process of developing independence. As Ariella explains,
He is at the beginning of figuring out what is important to him. The role of the family is still important but the start of adolescence means he is pushing for independence from what has always provided him security.”
Of course, with the constant defiance is also the eye rolls, the loud sighs, and the shoulder shrugs when I ask him a question.
Holy mood swings, Batman
He’s not always rude though. Sometimes he’s over-the-top loud, excited, crazy and playful, like the little boy I’ve had by my side for the past 10 years.
Other times he’s quiet, reserved, moody and basically doesn’t want to have a bar of me. It’s hard to know what’s going on in his mind and why the mood. Often he doesn’t have the words to explain it.
Then other times he wants me there but doesn’t want to talk. He just wants me to sit with him, to watch him play Playstation, to read a book beside him, to tickle his feet. Not to ask him questions about his day or suggest he brush his teeth.
Just to be there. To be his safe zone when his emotions are all over the shop.
Big year, big emotions
This is one of the hardest things about having a 10-year-old boy. It’s a really hard year for them.
There’s a lot of stress on their little shoulders. High school is just around the corner and suddenly he’s worried about his grades. Hobbies become passions and having a bad game or missing a goal can feel like the end of the world. Things like clothing and haircuts and friendship circles matter now.
Girls may even matter, not that he tells me though.
There’s also a lot of physical changes – you know, pre-puberty and all that jazz.
By the age of 10, most kids are beginning to experience hormonal changes and these can manifest in behavioural changes long before any physical signs appear,” Ariella tells Mum Central.
The double-digit transition
It’s a very big year for transitions and our 10-year-old boys are stuck in the middle. They are entering that strange tween zone marked by uncertainty and conflicting emotions.
My son wants to be the same as everyone else, but he also wants to stand out. He wants to be independent but he’s also afraid of the responsibility. He wants affection and attention, but he also doesn’t want to look uncool or babyish.
He’s trying to be his own person but he’s unsure who that person is. And that can be a tough thing to overcome.
‘Not good’ enough
Then there’s the fear of failing. And that sense that he’s simply not good enough. Sometimes it’s easier to act tough, to not try, to be defiant. To act like he doesn’t care.
That’s the heartbreaking thing – he does care. He cares so much. He’s still just so afraid to show it, to let his guard down.
Giving our 10-year-old boys what they need
So, what can we do as parents to help them along this tricky 10 journey? Ariella has a few excellent suggestions.
Nurture your relationship with your child through one-on-one time
Doing something that interests you both is a wonderful way to stay connected without asking intrusive questions. This may mean finding a newfound interest in things like footy or Fortnite.
Have a dedicated family time, eg: dinner time
This can help them to feel that things are constant at home even if their mind and body feel confused.
Let them switch off (a little bit)
Many 10-year-olds are gamers. For my son, it’s Minecraft and Fortnite but there are countless games out there that pique the interest of the age group.
The gaming world is a safe one where they can live in fantasy and be who they want to be without having to worry about conforming or being accepted. Acceptance of the person they are becoming is incredibly important to 10 year olds!”
Ariella suggests parents educate themselves about what he is actually doing online and put limits in place if they feel it is getting out of hand.
Remain in control whilst he is under your roof
Yes, you want to be his mate. But you’re his mum first and foremost. And what you say goes. End of story.
Remember, he’s growing up but he still needs you
Maybe he doesn’t need you to tie his shoelaces or tuck him in. Maybe he doesn’t want to hang out with you 24/7 and maybe he forgets to say thank you (often), but he will ALWAYS love and need his mum. And, for now, at this tricky age, that’s enough.
One day our boys will find the words to say thank you and to fully understand just how much we adore them. Probably not today, but it will eventually happen. And I’ve got the champagne waiting for when that day finally comes!