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Forget terrible teens – TEN is officially the most difficult age for modern children, according to a new study of parents.

A nationwide survey into the highs and lows of modern parenting has revealed as many as 86 percent of parents believe children are turning into stroppy “teenagers” earlier than when they were young.

In fact, over half (52 percent) complained that their pre-teens can be more difficult than a teenager - with girls emerging as the most challenging between the ages of 8 and 12.

Throwing toddler like tantrums, becoming fussy with food, refusing to brush their teeth properly - and arguments over screen time were the main signs of a “terrible tween” according to the survey – as was, refusing to go to bed, being over emotional and not wanting to be seen with parents and grandparents.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of the parents polled said kids are becoming moodier earlier these days due to celebrity culture and social media encouraging them to grow up faster.

The poll of 1,001 parents with pre-teens by Aquafresh Advance found four in ten believe children are growing up more quickly due to their hormones kicking in earlier due to diet and environmental factors.

Trying to emulate older siblings, the pressures of school exams and their peers acting older than their years were also among the reasons why parents thought their kids were reaching adolescence earlier than they did.

When asked how they deal with tween, 13 percent admitted they ignore bad behaviour, insisting it’s just a phase, while 55 percent are more patient and think the best policy is to talk things through as much as possible.

But a more robust 15 percent take a zero tolerance stance, playing hardball with their pre-teens when it comes to stroppy behaviour.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as according to those parents with older children, by the age of 16 both boys and girls have got over their tricky stage.

In fact, the survey also revealed some positive aspects of having “older than their years” pre-teen children, with 59 percent of adults saying they had good conversations with their offspring - however 56 percent insisted that although their kids seemed grown up they were still not too old for a cuddle.

A spokesperson from Aquafresh Advance said, “Parents today have a lot to deal with, especially when it comes to raising pre-teens. According to the research, half of kids (50 percent) are overly emotional for no real reason, while nearly half (44 percent) refuse to go to bed on time and over a quarter (26 percent) even refuse to brush their teeth.

“We want to provide a helping hand to parents across the UK, so while we can’t help with all of the challenges outlined in the research, we can try to make brush time a little easier. This month we have launched the Aquafresh Inventors Academy competition, working with Little Inventors, to help make brush time more fun and reinforce the importance of having healthy teeth. Just visit and upload a picture of your child's invention or innovative idea.”

The research also indicates that more than one in five (21 percent) parents felt the trickiest age of all was the toddler stage, but 14 percent said nothing could compare to the stress of caring for a new born.

Over two-thirds (67 percent) of mums and dads held their hands up and confessed to being a difficult teenager themselves but 33 percent maintained they were much easier as an adolescent.

Six in ten parents who took part in the study believe their parents did a good job in raising them and were trying to replicate their mum and dad’s parenting style.


1. Throwing toddler style tantrums
2. Spending too long on tablets/phones
3. Being overly emotional for no reason
4. Refusing to go to bed at bedtime
5. Leaving their room in a state
6. Being messy
7. Being a fussy eater
8. Not wanting to be seen with parents/grandparents
9. Not wanting any affection
10. Refusing to brush their teeth



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