Author Topic: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys  (Read 2646 times)

BZB

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Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« on: May 09, 2020, 07:12:30 AM »
I'm looking for ideas on a tween boy room revamp in small space, and if you have any other advice for parenting tween boys, especially during this pandemic, I'm happy to hear it.

It's time to revamp my tween boy's room. He's reaching a point where he's not so interested in the little kid things anymore. He is interested in science, space travel, Harry Potter, and seems more interested in legos now (not the kits). He also expressed interest in getting some new board games. My interest is reducing screen time during this coronavirus half-assed homeschooling adventure. He reads a ton, either non-fiction history and science books (good) or the graphic novels like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series that don't go anywhere near his reading abilities. Getting him to read Newbery award-winning chapter books is like pulling teeth, and I don't want to create a power struggle about reading. I am reading through the Harry Potter series with him, and he adores being read to. If left to himself, he'd spend the whole day playing Minecraft and watching videos of people playing Minecraft on YouTube and I can see the brain cells leaking out of his ears. I want to get him some screen free things to occupy him while I'm working full-time at home. I'm leery of a lot of the toys out there. I got burned by the Christmas beyblade incident - paid $$$ for pieces of crap.

Space is a big consideration. He's an only child, he has the bedroom, I sleep in the living room, and I have to use part of his closet space for household storage. Oh, and unfortunately no yard, so I can't send him out to play by himself, but we do have a large balcony. We live close to several nice parks so we can go fly kites, toss a ball, throw a frisbee when the weather's decent and I'm not working.


calimom

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2020, 06:53:28 PM »
Hi,  BZB: I have a now turning 18 year old son, and remembering back about 8 years or so, I'm remembering the changes from little boy to tween to teen. He was 5 when we  moved  into this house and had his first big boy bed was the race-car thing. That lasted till he was about 8, when for developmental and size reasons he got upgraded to a single bed. His older sister and I spent happy hours painting a mural on  one wall of trucks  and tractors in a jungle setting. Sadly, that got outgrown, so that wall was painted a solid color (after taking photos of the mural). At around 10  or so, the twin/boxspring bed was switched out for a low pine single with 3 drawers underneath to hold clothes. The chest of drawers went away, and I put a painted door that fit over two orange metal file cabinets (not a full  size door) to create desk and work table. Where the chest was, a beanbag chair went in. With only moderate changes made by him over the past few  years, that setup has served him well. The bean bag  is where  he's practiced guitar,  and  the  desk has been a place for model making and  Lego, though he's of course grown out of those things now - I miss those days.

One option I've seen in other  tweens' room is the Ikea Stuva Bed:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=20&ved=2ahUKEwi8m4vThKjpAhWSo54KHbmeCgwQFjATegQIBhAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ikea.com%2Fus%2Fen%2Fp%2Fstuva-loft-bed-frame-desk-and-storage-white-60345099%2F&usg=AOvVaw247y3IqijGNdQbq-Cts9j8

Hope the  link comes  through. Could something like that work? Storage  and frees  up floor space. Kind of cool, not inexpensive, probably a nightmare  to install and may or may not transition to high school age. Just an idea.

How do you use your balcony? Potted plants, seating? Is there a place for him to have some messy project area? Kids that age like to explore new things. A cheap teepee to have some alone time?

My son's never been a  big  reader,though he's finishing up The Catcher in the Rye to complete his high school English. Limiting screen  time  is a real thing for tweens and teen humans. Having projects, household responsibilities, and interests like music and sports helps a lot. Go easy on yourself for the school from home situation while working full time. It's tough, these are unusual times and kudos to you for carrying on.

BZB

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2020, 07:07:52 PM »
Thanks for the ideas, @calimom ! That IKEA bed looks like it might work - I'll check if there's enough clearance with the ceiling. I just might have enough space on the balcony to set up a crafting/experiment table. The balcony is covered, so it could work, and it would give him more outdoors time while I'm working.

Bettersafe

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2020, 02:55:59 AM »
Hi, my son's 11 yo. He likes reading books but is also extremely picky so finding him something to read is a challenge. And he also likes minecraft way too much to my liking... :-).

But, he really enjoyed reading the books of Stephan and Lucy Hawking ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George%27s_Secret_Key_to_the_Universe ). The space-theme might speek to your son as well.
At the moment my son is reading the series of John Flanagan ( http://www.worldofjohnflanagan.com ), he wrote the books for his 12 yo son to get him to read ;-).

The idea to have a corner at the balcony for him is a good one. Maybe you can get him some tools, wood, nails etc so he can build things he likes and at them same time pick up some DYO experiences.
IKEA is also great at making the most of small spaces, if you have store nearby I recommend you visiting for ideas and you might take your son too, he's at an age he has some say over his bedroom. Besides, if he's on board with your plans it's more likely to be a succes. At the moment, the bedroom of our son has a beach theme with white, red and a wood floor as a base and a decorative surfboard on the wall etc. At the same time, lego, trains, a Donald Duck cover on his bed and his stuffed animals still in his bed, so a weird mix of him getting older and still being a child.

mspym

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2020, 03:36:21 AM »
I wouldn't fret so much about the reading level, as long as he is reading. Our youngest (E) stayed on the Wimpy Kid and the 13-story treehouse books past the age band but he also got into the dystopian Gone series. There are some GREAT award-winning graphic novels that might be his speed - Copper is great, Amulet is excellent.

Boardgames - is he competitive? E got into Catan around the age of 10. We also got into Monopoly Deal which is a card game and is a whole different world of awesome - plus deck of cards so not a huge space hog.

pomegranatemom

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2020, 08:33:25 AM »
LOL about the current state of homeschooling! My son also prefers nonfiction and graphic novels. He loves Nathan Haleís books, which are graphic novels of historical events. Purple Death by David Getz was very topical and not a graphic novel. And maybe try biographies? I thought these would be too dry for a kid, but my son loves them. Again, some are in graphic novel form.
I think youíre smart not to push your son to read Newberry Award winners. Maybe read them aloud when youíre done with Harry Potter? Fiction isnít for everyone and thatís fine. I have several adult friends that claim they donít like to read, but Iíve discovered they read a lot of nonfiction. They just think they donít like to read because they were forced to read fiction in school.
We sort Legos by color in these bins: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/trofast-storage-combination-with-boxes-pine-light-white-stained-pine-white-s79102958/ Yes, by color. It is torturous but enhances play because he can more easily find that special piece. I help with the sorting every few weeks and my son is very very thankful.

LiveLean

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2020, 12:28:18 PM »
Father of boys 17, 14.

Your #1 parenting battle will be over screens. Nothing even comes close. Aggressively control access to video games and Internet. You will be up against huge peer pressure since most parents have thrown in the towel and allow their kids 24/7 access. I don't have the answer. It's frustrating as hell. I thought I'd be worrying about drugs, alcohol, premarital sex and pregnancy at this point. Nope. It's all about the battle of screens. I could suggest a hundred books for your son to read. Thankfully my sons still are reading, though not nearly as much as they once did. You must come up with a strategy to limit the screen time and remain consistent with it. We did not and we're paying the price for it. Change the WIFI password daily if you must. Whatever it takes. Your tween will be unrecognizable when he's 14. Prepare now.

BZB

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2020, 07:52:35 PM »
Thanks all, for your ideas, and book and game suggestions. We do have an IKEA nearby so I will take him with me when it's safer to go out again. He likes to make contraptions out of stuff from the recycling bin and gobs of scotch tape. I might incorporate some of your ideas into a "makerspace" craft area.

LiveLean, you're not kidding about the screen time problems! We had a minor skirmish today. I told him to not get on the computer while I was doing - cooking or whatever it was - for a half hour, and when I came back he was tapping away on the keyboard. I've watched some digital parenting webinars to wrap my head around how to handle all of this, but it seems nobody has it figured out. We've created a monster. Most adults I know, myself included at times, can't control themselves around screens. I'm lucky that his dad and I are in agreement to delay the smart phone as long as possible, and we're not buying video game systems at our respective places. It is hard, because a lot of his friends have phones and all kinds of devices already. I don't even have solitaire on my phone, but he can manage to turn my note keeping app into a game.

Laura33

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2020, 07:20:26 AM »
First, heartily support the loft bed idea.  We got a bed with a chest of drawers under it, which removes the need for a separate dresser.  Also, a big desk or table for working on projects -- I used to have a drafting table from Ikea that went up or down and could be flat or angled that I used for everything.  Something like that would work well, because it can be used for homework, Legos, or whatever.  Finally, storage.  Check the Ikea Expedit bookshelves (replaced/renamed Kallax?) -- you can get bins or drawers or cabinet fronts that fit in the empty squares.  I used these for both kids to corral the beyblades and legos and books and stuffed animals and what-have-you (I literally used sticky notes to identify each drawer/basket, so I could change them around as needed). 

Second, on the screens:  one thing to keep in mind is that for many boys this age, screens are how they socialize.  When my DS hit MS, he and his friends largely stopped getting together in person and started meeting up online to play a videogame together.  And if he is turning your note-keeping app into a game, why is that bad?  Sounds pretty creative to me!  I am totally with you that videogames all day is a bad idea.  But don't just knee-jerk "bad" -- look at what he's doing, figure out if he's just passively consuming mindless crap or using some brain cells being creative and teaching himself various skills (useful or not!).  If he's interested in turning everything into a game, maybe he'd be interested in learning some basic coding?  If he likes computer stuff and Legos and such, maybe he'd like some Vex robotics, so he can build a robot AND learn to program it?  In other words, if there is a way you can build on what interests him instead of fighting it all the time, you might both end up happier for it. 

BTW, I'm the former-English-major-Luddite in the family, and so it has taken me a lot of time and effort to move away from the "screens = bad mind-sucking crap" mindset.  But my 14-yr-old is now convinced he wants to be a robotics engineer, so what am I going to do, make him sit down and read "Little Women"?

tthree

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2020, 10:03:59 AM »
We revamped our sons room when he was about 9.5.  Purchased a loft bed (Wayfair because ladder doesn't stick out into the footprint of the room) and some IKEA storage and a desk.  Dresser is in the closet to save space.

"Board games" for one: https://www.amazon.ca/ThinkFun-Circuit-Maze-Board-Game/dp/B01BX4G6FY/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?keywords=circuit+maze&qid=1589212321&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.ca/ThinkFun-44005000-Rush-Hour/dp/B00000DMER/ref=mp_s_a_1_8?keywords=think+fun+ice+cream+truck&qid=1589212661&sr=8-8

Books....if he's reading something that's a win.

If you are looking for some educational screen time Epic has a lot of videos (and books).

My guy loves this YouTube channel: https://m.youtube.com/user/Kurzgesagt

ETA: and the black suitcase in the picture is a portable record player...music without a screen...it's great!


« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 10:05:44 AM by tthree »

BZB

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2020, 08:40:27 PM »
@Laura33 and @tthree , thanks for the links and ideas! That is a really cool looking set up in your kid's room, @tthree.
I agree that screens are not the devil, but I have to figure out a balance. I've noticed that when my son has more screen time he also starts to have behavior problems and gets irritable. I did get him a Raspberry Pi and we built the basic computer for him, but we haven't done much yet with coding projects or building onto it. That's something I need to make time for. If I leave the Raspberry Pi in his room he'll play minecraft all the time.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2020, 04:37:47 PM »
My tween son has a list of things that *must* be done every day to get internet access the next day.  Exercise for 30 minutes, fine arts for 30 minutes (can include singing along with the radio/youtube videos), reading for 30-60 minutes, and daily chores.  If any of those don't get done, no electronics of any sort the next day.  The kids tested that once last summer, realized I was serious and whined for 24 hours, then mostly cooperated.

I drag the kids out on walks or long bike rides at least once a week.  Often this involves bribery - ride 10 miles round trip with me and we'll stop at the convenience store and I will run in to get us a snack.  After a few weeks of making this a routine, the whining has slowed down.

My kid likes Legos and likes to make his Legos and toys act out scenes from movies (currently obsessed with Jurassic World and the Avengers).  I've had him create his own comic books, create a video of him playing with them, etc.  Sometimes that will occupy him for a little while.  He likes to play Charades (but that requires you or someone on video chat).  For board games, Ticket to Ride, Carcassone, and Settlers of Cataan.  Some of these games can be played online with his friends, too.  Plus card games like Skip Bo and Uno. 

For all I complain about the screens, I still try to play video games with him weekly.  It's important to him, and I want to share that. 

The only other advice - if he isn't already wearing deodorant, make him start.  My kid doesn't need it yet, but he's in the habit of putting it on every day, so I'm hoping we can keep the future stinky somewhat under control.

Gremlin

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2020, 09:41:33 PM »
Think about what you can do that creates a neutral canvas.  Almost certainly, the room that your tween wants now will be "heaps babyish" in two years time.  And repeat every two years until they're... who knows?

So get a solid bed, desk and/or bookshelf and dresser and then see what you can do to cheaply (and I mean cheaply!) accessorise.  That expensive Diary of a Wimpy Kid duvet cover might hit the mark today, but I can guarantee you that it will not age well.

On the books, I'd just be encouraging him to read.  If it's history and science, that's awesome.  An inquisitive mind is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow on a child.  If it's Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the downtime, then so be it.  Much better to have a head in a book, regardless of what it is, than in a screen (but in the grand scheme of things, Minecraft is not too bad in this regard).  One of the other things I'd suggest is properly ENGAGING with him on what he's reading.  If it's non-fiction, get him to explain the topics to you, which ones he finds most interesting, what's he thinking about as a result, etc.  If it's fiction then ask him to describe the plot, how a specific character might feel, etc.  Ditto with Minecraft.  I'd always engage with my kids if they were proud of something they'd built with Lego because there's a tangible and physical outpouring of their creativity and design, but it took me a while to see that Minecraft had that too and wasn't just (always) a mindless pastime.  There is often a huge amount of creativity and thought that goes into constructing in a Minecraft world.  It's almost certainly a point where you can engage, support and grow his creativity.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2020, 05:41:39 AM »
Purely from an interior design POV, I recommend finding a warm beigey colour or a neutral bluey colour (with a hint of slate) for the walls. Don't buy any coloured furniture. As other people have said, ANYTHING cool right now will be babyish and tragic in a year or two. He can put his personality on it with accessories.

Definitely get a loft bed with something underneath, either a desk, storage or a sofa. Something like this would be awesome: https://www.familywindow.co.uk/products/stompa-casa-c-high-sleeper-with-sofa-bed-desk-shelf If there's not enough height, a "captain's bed" has drawers underneath so at least you're partially doubling up there.

I'd recommend getting one big bit of storage furniture rather than lots of little bits, like a shelving unit that goes from floor to ceiling. It'll create fewer crevices to clean between bits of furniture, use vertical space, and be more versatile becaus eyou can organise big shelves differently more easily than lots of little shelves and drawers. Always look for a small, simple footprint and as tall as possible. For any piece of furniture you're thinking of getting, google "X with storage" to get more bang for your buck from the footprint. Provide many MANY clear plastic boxes or neutral-colours boxes/baskets to contain stuff.

Definitely get an over-the-door shoe organiser. They can be used to store loads of stuff, not just shoes!

For versatile decor, buy a couple of big, plain picture frames - A3 is a good size. Buy a few cheap posters online and it'll be easy to swap them out when they get uncool. Also, buy a HUGE corkboard for him to cover with ever-changing crap. I'd let him pick the duvet cover but not the curtains/blinds, because it's easy and cheap to swap the former and a PITA to swap the latter. Get a darker version of the wall colour, maybe with a stripe, but nothing too patterned. I also highly recommend hanging some coat hooks on the wall so he has no excuse to leave "But I'll wear it again, honest!" clothes on the floor.

Consider getting the book "Make Your House Do The Housework" by Don Aslett. It is very good on storage space that's easy to keep clean.

And as an ex-tween...

As for reading, at that age my parents took us to the library every week or two and their policy was that we had to take out the maximum number of books (eight, IIRC, so not a crazy number!) every time. We didn't have to read them, but we had to choose them, check them out, keep track of them, and return them on time. Once we'd gone through all that hassle, most of the time I felt I might as well read them...! I think it's more important to focus on the habit of reading than what he's reading. My parents still bang on at me to read Great Literature, but to be honest I'm just not that interested in novels. However, even though I lost it for a few years around university, I still have the habit of having a book on the go and read widely in nonfiction and biography as well as some "trashy" detective novels. I don't think I'm a lesser human because I don't want to read Thackerey and Tolstoy.

Figure out a policy on mess and cleanliness in his room vs privacy and ownership, especially if you're using some of the storage space. I remember being hugely impressed by a friend of mine who said she let her primary school aged children draw on the walls of their bedrooms. They were only allowed to do it in pencil so she could paint over it but she said she didn't have to look at it in there and it meant they didn't draw on the rest of the house. I thought that was a very sensible approach! (She owned the house, obviously...) Is it important that he keeps him room tidy, or just hygienic (e.g. no food left in there to mould, hoover once a month kind of thing)? Or does it really need to be decently tidy so you can get to your stuff? Or do you want it to be tidy to teach him to be a human enough to have sanctions if it isn't? Why does his room need to be tidy? It'll help you decide where to draw your battle lines when it becomes an issue.

I think a good question for encouraging people of all ages off screens is "What would you like to learn how to do?" and then provide the materials to facilitate that. You might have to engage in a bit of, uh, Socratic dialogue to find something that isn't "Do Minecraft better", but he'll be more invested in it if it comes from him.

Also, if you're wanting to limit screens then I think it would be nice if you can to frame it as something you're doing together. "Son, I think we both need to cut down our screen usage, so from now on the Wifi will be off between X and Y times.* We can do something together then if you like or you could do [other thing] and I'm going to do [good example thing]."

*The interwebs can tell you how to make this happen.

Laura33

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2020, 06:46:36 AM »
Quote
I don't think I'm a lesser human because I don't want to read Thackerey and Tolstoy.

Just piling on to @shelivesthedream here, but:  even if you do think someone is a lesser human if they don't want to read Thackerey and Tolstoy, what are you going to do about it?  You can't force someone to like something they don't or be something they're not.  This is when you get over yourself and parent the kid you have, not the one you wish you had or thought you'd have or assumed you'd have. [AMHIK] 

Not that that's what I think OP is doing.  It just jumped out at me.  And it's apparently something I feel very strongly about, because even though it has nothing to do with the OP, I can't seem to not post this.  ;-)
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 12:25:22 PM by Laura33 »

shelivesthedream

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2020, 11:19:20 AM »
Quote
I don't think I'm a lesser human because I don't want to read Thackerey and Tolstoy.

Just piling on to @shelivesthedream here, but:  even if you do think someone is a lesser human if they doesn't want to read Thackerey and Tolstoy, what are you going to do about it?  You can't force someone to like something they don't or be something they're not.  This is when you get over yourself and parent the kid you have, not the one you wish you had or thought you'd have or assumed you'd have. [AMHIK] 

Not that that's what I think OP is doing.  It just jumped out at me.  And it's apparently something I feel very strongly about, because even though it has nothing to do with the OP, I can't seem to not post this.  ;-)

Yeah, it's like my parents just cannot believe that I don't like Great Literature, or novels in general. They honestly seem surprised, but it just keeps coming up. "Oh, why don't you read [novel]?" I dunno, it sounds boring. "What?!? I thought it was wonderful!" Yeah, I'd rather read a 700 page real diary from WW2 or an analysis of the concept of an English village. Or a frothy Chick lit type autobiography!

jeninco

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2020, 11:50:23 AM »
Seconding (do I get another vote? I'll also third it) the Don Aslett book. It's been HUGE for us to design and organize the house in ways that make it easy to clean!

For each of my boys, having their room be relatively straightforward to straighten and organize means that pushing a vacuum around in it is easy. Plus, their ease at having things be organized (but still easy to find, so no double-stacked stuff, for instance, and yes to either clear plastic containers or labelled shoeboxes) is evident.

BZB

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2020, 08:34:23 PM »
Thanks all for more ideas! I'm going to check out the Don Aslett book you recommended. That sounds perfect for me, as I tend toward minimalism but my son does not.

I agree about not pushing anyone to read something they aren't into. My mom was an English teacher who worked in a middle school that had mostly at-risk kids. Her talent was getting the kids everyone else had given up on, who were barely able to read, up to grade level by the end of the year. She spent a lot of her own money making games to teach reading and buying books that would interest the kids but be at a level they could read. It's tricky to find a book to appeal to a 15 year old boy who failed 8th grade twice and who reads at a first grade level. Somehow she did it. So anyway, my point in all of that is I really prioritize reading, and it needs to be enjoyable because I don't want to create an aversion. Even though my son can read way above his grade level, he chooses to do his more advanced reading in non-fiction and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid-type books are his fiction outlet. At least he enjoys it when I read other fiction to him, so he'll get his humanities side in, gosh-darn it. I hope to keep reading to him until he leaves the nest. I remember a high school English teacher who read to us. We adored her. I'm a big fan of Jim Trelease and I think reading is the foundation of all learning. It's hard to teach someone to be a good writer if they were never a reader.

The other day while I was working, I put my son to work looking up loft beds and storage options. He had to make a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of products, and an Excel spreadsheet with the specs and the costs. I gave him a budget and helped him measure his room with a tape measure to see if things would fit. Productive screen time! Then later I found him playing minecraft during his class Zoom meeting with his teacher while she was reading The Diary of Anne Frank to them. So we had a talk about respect and now those Zoom meetings have to happen while he's sitting next to mom. It's a tug of war.

BZB

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2020, 08:45:23 PM »
@formerlydivorcedmom YES on the deodorant! He only occasionally has the little man funk, and I want to know HOW can one armpit stink but not the other? How does the body do that?!? I have to remind him, but he puts on deodorant at my place. His dad has different rules, and dad's new girlfriend has got him all averse to anything with "chemicals" so he doesn't want our son wearing deodorant. I don't want our son to stink. Thankfully it hasn't turned into a big deal yet, but as our son's puberty marches on, there will be plenty of changes and co-parenting decisions we'll have to make.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2020, 01:56:24 AM »
Awesome idea with the loft bed options analysis!

Laura33

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2020, 06:51:23 AM »
I really prioritize reading, and it needs to be enjoyable because I don't want to create an aversion. Even though my son can read way above his grade level, he chooses to do his more advanced reading in non-fiction and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid-type books are his fiction outlet. . . .  I think reading is the foundation of all learning. It's hard to teach someone to be a good writer if they were never a reader.

FWIW:  I agree with all of this (raised by two English professors!).  But I do want to say that you never know.  My DD was basically born to be an engineer; she has never had any patience with fluff.  I mean, in ES, the "write a sentence about the picture" assignments would result in "the boy threw the ball."  We practially had to bribe her to add a freaking adjective -- what color was the ball?  was it big or little?  did he throw it fast or slow?  Analyzing fiction is just Not Her Thing; she gets frustrated by what she sees as fluff.  I still remember when she came home from HS whining "why does the door being red have to MEAN something?  Maybe that's just the only color paint they had!"  The whole literary arsenal of tricks to make a good book -- foreshadowing, symbolism, you name it -- leaves her completely cold.  She reads for plot, pure and simple.  And yet when her ES science teacher assigned a "report" on frogs, she filled the page and carried over onto the back; she was so interested in the topic that the ideas just spilled out of her. 

So when she went off to college last fall -- at a liberal arts college that also has an engineering program -- I laughed inside about how wasted the liberal arts opportunities would be, and I soothed my English-major sensibilities by reminding myself that she would at least be required to take a few classes to satisfy her core curriculum requirements.  But guess what her favorite class this year was?  Her freshman seminar.  And she's excited about taking a class in the Greek myths, and all sorts of other "liberal arts" things.  She is still more interested in the real world than in fiction -- her seminar was real-life law and crime stuff -- and she's never going to get that same thrill from great writing that I do, but she is all about communicating ideas (extrovert!), and she understands she needs to write effectively to do that.  So you never know where kids' interests are going to take them.

jeninco

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2020, 09:41:24 PM »
Deodorant: Google "Crystal Deodorant" No chemicals, and it works great for lots of people (including me). Might be helpful?

gatortator

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2020, 09:38:24 PM »
My tween son has a list of things that *must* be done every day to get internet access the next day. 


the next day aspect is genius.  we've had similar chore and reading requirements but it was always same day use.  I like the plan ahead idea way better though and just switched my kids ( boy and girl tweens) to this.  thanks!

20957

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2020, 08:33:27 AM »
<quote> I mean, in ES, the "write a sentence about the picture" assignments would result in "the boy threw the ball."  We practially had to bribe her to add a freaking adjective -- what color was the ball?  </quote>

Sorry to hijack but I am literally dealing woth this with my kindergartener right now! She is smart and loves books and I was thinking it was just laziness...thanks for giving me another view, @Laura33

LinneaH

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2020, 08:57:04 AM »
Thank you for this topic and all comments. I have two sons (9&7) and I see this in our next couple of years. As we are leaving the house, moving into an apartment (divorce), I really want to plan their rooms to be easy to clean and enjoyable to them.

We will have two bedrooms, and I think one will be sleeping area for all of us + books, the other will be their "play room", meaning legos, tv gaming, a small sofa, probably a small desk to fit two kids. The living room will be for socialising, play and exercise (no tv in there). Later on, they will have one room each, and I will sleep in the living room somehow, probably in a sofa bed.

At what age do I start them on deodorant??? Assume this differs but I'd appreciate an indication :-)

AMandM

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2020, 01:01:45 PM »
Another note on loft beds: if your ceilings are too low for commercially-available loft beds, you can make one yourself by supporting a sheet of 3/4" plywood with a kitchen cabinet under each end. It won't be high enough to allow for a desk, but it creates a fair amount of storage and a private cubby-hole to curl up in.

One way to have a design with a strong theme, but that's relatively easy to change when outgrown, is to paint a design on a flat sheet and hang it up (could be on the wall, or enclosing the loft bed or the area beneath, or instead of a closet door). My two boys shared a room and when they were really into knights and castles they had a grey curtain painted to look like a castle wall, with a hole cut in it to be a window/archery slit, and plastic ivy stapled on to it.

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #26 on: June 09, 2020, 06:22:42 PM »
@LinneaH For my son, around age 10 was when he started to occasionally need deodorant. He doesn't always need it. It seems to correspond with growth spurts. I'm trying to get him in the habit of always putting it on, because we live in a hot and humid climate.  As for your description of what your living situation will be, it sound workable! I have my bed in the living room and gave my son the bedroom mainly because I need to be able to stay up later than him and get things done. I treat it as a studio apartment with a bonus room. He's only with me half time, so it doesn't feel too crowded. Also, it is nice to be able to shut the door on his room. His room isn't very messy but it's definitely in a kid style, not how I want the rest of the living area to look.

@AMandM Thanks for the suggestions about loft beds and the idea for making a low loft with storage. I was scoping out the Memorial Day sales online for loft beds, but even on discount, paying retail was more than I wanted to spend right then. I am hoping I can find something secondhand for a lot cheaper.

jeninco

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2020, 08:57:53 AM »
We've purchased captains beds (single, or double beds with storage (mostly drawers) underneath) on Craigslist twice. Even something as simple as having your dresser and your bed use the same floor space really helps in small rooms! If you go that route, try to find one with large drawers -- some have these strange tiny drawers that aren't useful for much.

Fru-Gal

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2020, 09:32:53 AM »
Ooh I really love @Laura33 and others' insights about screens. My teens (14 and almost 20) have been screen-oriented probably for the last 4-5 years since their dad bought them phones and they gradually began accumulating computers. Has been a constant battle. But there are some interesting wrinkles.

--Yes, it is the way they socialize, do team work, research game hacks.

--During the pandemic, I have changed my views on video games. They're just animated 3D boardgames with entire worlds! While I can't really play, I tried a bit, plus my kids love it if I watch them (that's a big thing, kids watching each other play).

--My kids have done a lot to improve their gaming setups. One bought himself a steering wheel and pedals. The other bought all components and built himself a gaming PC and it is super cool and worked right away (that blew my mind). He also built a Raspberry Pi and tried (but failed) to get a computer vision/ML project going. Either I'm gonna steal that Pi from him and try to use it as a streaming cam or I'll get him to work on it again to automate something around the house.

--They both use stuff they bought at the garbage dump recycling place (screens, cables, mice, keyboards, amps)!

--They inspired ME to improve my home office gear and now I have a great keyboard and 2nd monitor that I keep in portrait orientation.

--Older son got a work from home job and uses his two recycled screens to do it!!!

--As a big reader, it frustrates me that they stopped. They were both readers until phones/better internet came along. However they have amazing vocabularies. I realized that they choose to absorb information via video, not books. I suddenly realized that if I FORCED them to watch educational tv all day, they'd hate it -- yet that is what they are doing!! It has inspired me to learn more that way, often by osmosis (e.g. leave a series of videos about editing in Premiere running while I putter about the house). Now I really can't tolerate regular TV and haven't watched in years.

--I also pay them to do tasks for me like edit videos or summarize research or code a web page. I always remember this idea of making them create, not just consume.

Having said all that, I also recommend OhmConnect for regular time to disconnect. They love that too.

They get outside every day and ride bikes, run with me, garden, walk the dogs. If I really want them off screen, travel outside or camping does the trick since they love the outdoors.

For the parent worried they won't do other bad stuff.... don't worry, they will! They will plan their stupid crimes via screen. Try to spy on occasion and stop the worst of it.

The screen time is excessive now, but we are in a pandemic!

Having said all this, I will definitely be trying new creative things to get the 14 year old off screens since distance learning is here to stay.


Just Joe

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2020, 01:59:33 PM »
Re: cheapish furniture

https://www.ana-white.com

Someone here at MMM mentioned that website.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #30 on: July 29, 2020, 02:22:15 PM »
My kids are now 19 and 16. 

I have tried to have a no screens during daylight hours...what helped was most of the other families in the social circle came up with the same rule.  Now that my son is 19, that rule is out the door.  BUT he has to do his chores before gaming.

We encouraged in person meet ups.  We have bought equipment to encourage outdoor activities - canoe / life jackets, rackets, bikes, balls of all types.  We have gear for them to bake potatoes over campfires, pancake breakfasts if they have camp outs in the back yard, us adults discussed our comfort levels of letting them roam more. Some parents were not ready to let them go across town but did allow them to join the pack of six to ride up to a park in the country.  I started giving them money for ice cream at shop that is a good distance for a 10 year old to walk to.   I would give my kid enough money to treat the gang if it was one of their birthdays or last day of school.  It got them in the habit of going somewhere by bike or walking or canoe and off screens.  Another family in their circle has set up their back yard for an outdoor movie.  They spend the whole evening outside and most of the time is debating what movie to watch.  One of their gang is really into baking so there is a lot of dessert testing. Fortunately one of the neighbours has a pool so they do a lot of swimming.  Another family hosts a street party once a year that has contests.  There can be a couple of weekends building a catapult or a soapbox cart.  It is a little more work to think up constructive activities for this age group.  And six 14 year old boys can make your living room reek - but we closed the door and made them leave their shoes outside on the porch.  I even felt them  gaming together online but all of them in my living room was better than being each in their own homes.  So I would make food.

MissPeach

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #31 on: July 29, 2020, 04:36:30 PM »
A few more ideas..

For screen time you can always cut off access at the router after certain limits have been reached or tasks not done. I haven't been great at this one myself since kiddo online helps give me time to work peacefully. But I do have rules as to when certain things need to be done like bath or lights out/relaxing time.

I haven't had much luck with Ikea if you move a lot. Anything with a cabinet, dresser, bookshelf type thing breaks really fast in my experience. The charities in my area won't take Ikea for donations either so it's hard to get rid of it. I choose my furniture there very carefully. Room and board also has beds like that and they also have ones with large under the bed rolling storage if you want something longer lasting.

As for exercise, mine isn't into sports but loves coffee and a few other frivolous things so I do walks to get coffee, thrift stores, or other bribes sometimes. It's a nice thing to do together.

Just Joe

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #32 on: July 30, 2020, 12:58:49 PM »
We don't have cableTV or satellite TV and instead stream everything.

We can't shut off the router without having a whole house communications blackout - all meant to get our younger teen into bed or doing homework.

What I did instead was only give the teen the 2G wifi password and the 5G wifi is a different password. 5G is what DW and I have on our phones and computers. On the Roku too.

That way our younger doesn't stay up half the night sneaking You Tube or chatting with friends making the following morning a disaster.

jeninco

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #33 on: July 31, 2020, 02:53:24 PM »
We don't have cableTV or satellite TV and instead stream everything.

We can't shut off the router without having a whole house communications blackout - all meant to get our younger teen into bed or doing homework.

What I did instead was only give the teen the 2G wifi password and the 5G wifi is a different password. 5G is what DW and I have on our phones and computers. On the Roku too.

That way our younger doesn't stay up half the night sneaking You Tube or chatting with friends making the following morning a disaster.
This sort of thing worked great in our household for about 2 days, until the then-tween figured out how to set up the other router and log into that. Great for hacker skills, not so much for getting enough sleep.

E_Monkey

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #34 on: August 01, 2020, 09:04:34 AM »
Have you looked at This End Up furniture? SUPER sturdy, which was a concern for us with this age group. We have been able to find it on FB Marketplace in our area.

Just Joe

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2020, 01:46:59 PM »
We don't have cableTV or satellite TV and instead stream everything.

We can't shut off the router without having a whole house communications blackout - all meant to get our younger teen into bed or doing homework.

What I did instead was only give the teen the 2G wifi password and the 5G wifi is a different password. 5G is what DW and I have on our phones and computers. On the Roku too.

That way our younger doesn't stay up half the night sneaking You Tube or chatting with friends making the following morning a disaster.
This sort of thing worked great in our household for about 2 days, until the then-tween figured out how to set up the other router and log into that. Great for hacker skills, not so much for getting enough sleep.

HAHAHA! I guess the only other solution is to seize devices at bedtime. Yep, causes great drama at our house too.

Fru-Gal

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2020, 11:38:52 AM »
I used to mess with the router, change the password, etc... Sometimes I'll leave the house and take the router plug with me. Or I take their devices and controllers while they are asleep, usually early in the morning since they stay up late. I also use Ohm Connect and the whole family is on board for turning off the circuit breaker and spending an hour electricity-free. I find it's important to REPLACE screen use with activities, "field trips" out of the house, and exercise, rather than force them to go without.

MissPeach

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #37 on: August 03, 2020, 04:10:51 PM »
I feel similar to you lately OP. Kiddo has taken on trying to program games, make videos and a ton of other things. A lot of it is to make money on the side but I am happy it's moving towards creation and learning new skills; not just consumption of mindless videos. Kiddo was never the book worm type but has been happy to learn off youtube videos and such these skills. Screen time isn't all bad.

BZB

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #38 on: August 05, 2020, 09:11:58 PM »
OP here. Thanks everyone for the discussion and suggestions. The tween years seems to be a tricky age. I haven't bought a loft bed yet because the ones I like are too expensive, but I will find a deal eventually. I did rearrange my son's room so it's more organized and he has commented many times how much he likes it and it's easier to keep clean. Small things can make a big difference. I have put together a sort of routine this summer that I call "Camp Mom", and the purpose is to keep my son engaged and busy doing mostly self-directed activities while I work full-time from home. It's not perfect, but it helps. We have "PE" every morning and that is a strength training exercise video and some kind of cardio outdoors, and that sets the tone for the day. I've got the screen time down to about an hour, sometimes 2 hours a day, and that has helped with his behavior. The hardest thing now is him not being around other kids, but everyone's going through that. I also try to get him outside in the evenings for a walk or a bike ride, and we started geocaching. The more I wear him out, the better. I sleep better, too, because I'm wearing myself out!

Fru-Gal

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #39 on: August 06, 2020, 01:11:57 AM »
Holy smokes 2 hours a day is fantastic!!! Congrats!

ontheway2

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Re: Seeking advice from parents of tween boys
« Reply #40 on: August 06, 2020, 08:37:42 AM »
I bought a Deco mesh router to get away from the supplied modem/router, and love the parental controls with it. There is an app and I can set daily hour limits and bedtimes for the Wifi per connected device. I can also group devices to a kid with time/content limits. I.E, my oldest son's xbox, phone, his friend's phones and gaming systems, the upstairs streaming devices, etc all have the same parental controls. My younger son has his tablet or items he uses on a stricter control.  Internet doesn't have to be all or none.
I'm also going to recommend a loft bed for small spaces. You can just get the basic metal ones that are open underneath for you to customize.