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4 Tips on Dealing with Kids' Secretive Behavior

She's in her room - again - with the music on and the door locked. Should you worry about this semi-secretive behavior? Probably not. "Kids are starting to separate emotionally from parents at this stage, and it's often demonstrated physically by closing the door to their room," explains Linda Sonna, Ph.D., author of The Everything Tween Book. How to handle this new phase:

  • Give her some space: She's likely in there so she can chat on the phone, read books, play games, or just daydream. With all the after-school events, homework, and other activities scheduled into her day, downtime is a much-needed respite.
  • Limit locking: If your tween is afraid of other family members barging in, let her know she can lock the door if she's getting dressed or has an especially demanding homework assignment. But there's no need to lock it every time she's in there.
  • Stay connected: Maintain your regular household rules - joining the family for dinner, helping her siblings with homework - so she's aware she can't stay holed up all the time.
  • Tone down electronics: Keep TVs and video games in the family area, so you can watch a movie or play a game together, or just hang out and talk - she still needs plenty of support.