If you have a tween, a child between 9 and 12, you know how hard it can be to get him or her in front of a camera.
At our house, the gamut of excuses is fast and furious the minute the camera comes out.
"I have nothing to wear."
"My hair doesn't look good today."
"I'm not doing it if she (her sister) is doing it."
My favorite yesterday was "You can take my picture, but don't get my face in it at all."
It's enough to make any mother run for the hills.
So what's going on with our tweens and what do they have against photos right now?
It's actually pretty simple.
Change. Our tweens recently experienced huge growth spurts. We've been in one size, had to go up a size, and then back down a size. One daughter has moved into the world of junior-sized clothing, most of which is a little too revealing for her taste. No one is comfortable in their clothes right now, let alone their own skin. No one wants to feel "different," yet that's exactly where we are. YIKES!
Fear. We have tried to mentally prepare our children for puberty and what it brings. (Getting them to refer to it as anything other than the "P word" right now is out of their grasp.) Again, there is a big fear of the physical changes coming, as well as the social changes. Friends have shifted. School will be different in the fall as they start rotating teachers. They are also starting to understand the bigger picture (what is going on in the world) and that is highly disturbing to both of them. Ignorance is truly bliss.
Acceptance. This is a big one, and social media be damned. Comments, followers, ugh, it all plays into this new need for acceptance from peers, both face-to-face as well as online. It's amazing how tweens who won't have their photo taken will spend a good amount of time perfecting a selfie or a music.ly video for their friends to see. They want acceptance and they want to control how they are perceived.
As much as I hate to observe what is going on in our house, I totally get it. I have a fourth-grade photo I'd like to go away permanently. (I'd have included it, but I couldn't find it....darn)
So what do you do when your child hits the "awkward stage" and you're dying for a photo of your tween?
Just a few ideas.
1. Schedule a session just for them.
Tweens secretly want to be the center of attention. Who doesn't? Don't rely on a school yearbook photo to capture this time in their lives (trust me, they will want to burn their yearbook later). Schedule a solo session with a professional photographer. Let them bring their own props and involve them in the planning process.
2. Talk to your photographer prior to the session.
Discuss any issues your child may be self-conscious about. You'd be amazed what can be done with posing - and editing software - to hide real and conceived flaws. It also helps when the photographer knows a little something about your tween (their interests, etc.) in advance. You'd be amazed how tweens will open up to someone who shows an interest in them and their hobbies.
3. Build excitement by getting your tween involved in the planning stage.
If you want to do a family photo, talk to your tween about how important it is to you and how fun it will be. Give him or her a chance to offer input. Tweens are maturing and they want to be involved in the big decisions. Here's one case where it's totally acceptable. When families work together, everyone gets excited.
4. Patience and timing.
As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes you can ride out a phase or simply approach your tween with something at the right time for the desired outcome. I'm admittedly no expert on tweens, but I have found there is a certain skill I'm developing as far as timing. Play their mood.
I'm told tweens eventually grow out of this stage, and I'm patiently awaiting the day their current insecurities are well behind them. For now, I'm happy with those moments when "the walls" come down temporarily and the camera is ready to capture it.