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Gifts to encourage independence in tweens

Birthday gifting becomes more complex as kids get older and their interests narrow. When the fascination with dolls, superheroes, and pretend play fade, it can be tough to find something to engage that kid who’s not really a child anymore – but not quite a full-fledged teenager, either. AKA, a tween, loosely defined as kids between the ages of 8 and 12. One major change at this phase is a newfound sense of independence. “Because of the change in the way they see themselves and each other, pre-adolescents become progressively more attuned to their peers and less identified with their families and parents,” writes Juliann Garey, a journalist, novelist and clinical assistant professor at NYU on the Child Mind Institute website. For the tween in your life, check out these unique picks that encourage that burgeoning sense of independence and exploration of the world on their own.

Tweens can be a challenging age group to buy for, but a gift that sparks their sense of adventure and independence is always a good bet. This is the age that many kids are getting a small taste of freedom for the first time: walking or biking to a friend’s house, going away to overnight camp, or getting dropped off to play at the local park or recreation center. They’ll love these grown-up-ish gifts that aren’t babyish, but aren’t beyond their years either. From a glow-in-the-dark basketball to safety lights to a travel towel, there’s something for every tween here.

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