Gifts for Tween Girls According to Social-Emotional Development

Buying holiday gifts for tween girls can be challenging if you aren't paying close attention. Tweens develop emotionally and physically at different rates, and this can make things tricky when finding the perfect holiday gift they will be thanking you for all year long!

Nine to twelve years of age is considered the tween age and it is a pivotal time when young girls begin to mature and find interest in games, toys, and activities the older kids like. While they are drawn to their friends and socializing, they still crave time with the family. Keep this in mind when choosing gifts, and always pick a few things you can do together.

To make your gift-giving for your tween a snap, here is everything you need to know about a tween girl's social-emotional development. Giving her a gift in line with her emotional growth might put you at the top of her A list!

So, what exactly is going on in the minds of tween girls?

They are eager to learn. Most tween girls are excited to learn as much as they can. They have an inner thirst for knowledge and the ability to maintain their mental focus for more extended periods, making the tween years the ideal age for learning new skills. Pay attention to the activities and topics they are naturally interested in and encourage them in that direction by finding a gift that correlates. This is also the time to help tweens broaden their horizons and take a shot new hobbies.

Gift Ideas: DIY kits, science experiments, musical instruments, books and games on tech, coding for girls, knitting/crocheting, online classes in their topic of interest.

They are group-oriented and prefer group work. It's all about the "social game" for tweens. They want and need to spend time with their peers as they navigate and learn the rules of friendship, empathy, and integrity. Tweens are determining their value system. Give them plenty of opportunities to explore their beliefs by including items with a spiritual connection. Girls in this age group want to fit in with their peers, so pay attention to what other kids have and you will get it right!

Gift ideas: Animal spirit cards, an instant camera (like Polaroid) for group photos, wireless karaoke microphone, The Game of Life.

*Additional Suggestion: You can turn Jenga into a social-emotional learning tool by writing questions on several blocks. When a player pulls a question block, she can choose to answer it or pass it to another player.

They are fascinated with secrecy and privacy. Girls at this age are all about secret codes and languages only their closest peeps are privy to. Allow them to have some privacy at this age. Ten to twelve-year-olds thrive when they have a sense of autonomy and personal freedom. Let them spend time alone with friends, as long as you know the friends well and trust their judgment.

Gift ideas - A safe with a lock for personal items and treasures, jewelry boxes, and journals with prompts. Journaling is the perfect gift for anxious tweens who need a place to share their deepest thoughts and worries.

They are concerned with appearance and personal hygiene. As children approach the teenage years, they start to notice others as potential mates. You will see your child is more interested in grooming herself. This behavior is built into our DNA as a tactic to attract a partner. Don't freak out, mom and dad! Developing romantic feelings is a normative part of childhood development, and you want to send the message that it is ok for them to express this part of their identity.

Gift Ideas: Hair chalk pens, blow dryers, DIY soap kits, perfume, bath bombs with surprises inside, lotions and creams, headbands, and bow making.

*Note: If your child seems to be overly sexualizing herself for this age, is preoccupied with boys to the point that it interferes with sports or school, or you are very uncomfortable with her choices, it will help to speak with a family therapist or parenting coach about her behavior.

They are more interested in playing sports and have an increased attention span. Tween girls are more interested in sports than they were in their elementary days. If your child didn't initially take to sports, now is a good time to reintroduce the idea. Kids this age are excited about their favorite sports teams and icons. They are also able to focus for longer periods of time on learning new skills.

Gift ideas: Jerseys, posters, memorabilia, collector's items, clothing/hats, sporting goods.

They place a higher value on friendship than they used to. Of course friends are important at any age, but during the tween years friendships trump just about everyone else in their life. This is completely normative and can sting a bit for mom’s and dad’s who might be feeling lonely without all the attention. Take this opportunity to support their most valuable connections by giving gifts that encourage social bonding.

Gift ideas: Friendship bracelets, matching t-shirts, and necklaces. A sleeping bag for sleepovers. A framed photo of her with her besties.

They are building an identity outside of the family. Girls approaching the teenage years want to show off their style. The purpose of this is to develop an identity separate from their parents. This behavior is a sign of healthy psychological development and should be encouraged. Let them show off their individuality! Even if it makes you cringe, allowing them to spread their wings will support their self-esteem and increase confidence.

Gift ideas: Personalized or monogrammed backpacks, bags, beach towels, chairs, hairbrushes, jewelry boxes, and mirrors. And never underestimate the power of some cold hard cash! Money is an excellent gift for a child learning about a dollar's value and developing responsibility. Let them choose their own clothes and develop their personal style.

They are using art to express themselves. Customized items allow your child to feel a sense of ownership over her belongings. Allowing her to express herself artistically builds a strong sense of identity which is crucial to developing healthy decision making skills.

Gift Ideas: DIY pillows, color your own comforter, design your own shoes. KiwiCo has incredible DIY maker crates for all different ages and interests. I have first hand experience with KiwiCo, and they get the thumbs up from me and my daughter. (this is not an affiliate link, just an honest endorsement.)

Last tip: Think back to the gifts you enjoyed as a young women, and be inspired to share those same experiences with your loved one this year.

Gifts I enjoyed as a tween girl that stand the test of time:

  • The Game of Life

  • Collecting or growing crystals, gems, stones, rocks

  • Nintendo video games (non-violent options)

  • Lockbox

  • Journal

  • Science kits

  • Music - air pods, headphones

Finding the right gift can be exhausting! With this list I hope you can give the young women in your a life a meaningful present that is customized to her social-emotional development needs. I wish you a relaxing gift-giving season full of the joy and wonder of the holiday season.

To learn more about social-emotional development and improving the mental wellbeing of the children you love, please join my Facebook group, Emotiminds. It is an educational group for like-minded parents and mental health professionals who discuss parenting, healing from childhood trauma, and activities to increase emotional intelligence. We would love to have your perspective!

To receive my newsletter on children's mental health and trauma-responsive care, click HERE.

178 views0 comments