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Preteen Challenges

Preteens tend to be preoccupied with where they fit in. Are they smarter than other kids? Faster? Taller? And they're keenly interested in how much they're capable of doing on their own, now that they're so grown-up.

The result? Kids who test how far they can jump, how long they can hold a note, and more. Self-styled challenges boost kids' confidence  -- and they're fun. Here's how to play along:

Set up a log. Give your child a notebook so he can track his successes and chart his improvement. He can also write down his goals: Can he toss a quarter in a cup ten times in a row?

Brainstorm new challenges. As he works toward a goal, suggest ways to reach it (would bare feet be better for standing on one leg?) or adjust it (which leg can he stand on longer?). Need something new to try? Guinness World Records 2007 is a great place for inspiration.

Put his buddies to the test. Suggest that your child organize a "Record-Setting Afternoon," with different challenges, like reciting a tongue twister or running up and down the driveway.