How to stay close as kids move into adolescence
It’s typically between the ages of nine and twelve that our cute, lovable little children, once so willing to climb into our laps and share their secrets, suddenly want little or nothing to do with us. Your pre-adolescent is not the same person he was just a year or two ago. He has changed physically, cognitively and emotionally. He’s developing new independence and may even want to see how far he can push limits set by parents.
What he may not know is that he needs you as much as ever, because a strong parent-child relationship now can set the stage for a much less turbulent adolescence. But it won’t be easy, because you as a parent need to respect your child’s need for greater autonomy in order to develop a successful relationship with “the new version “of your kid.
The biggest danger for tweens is losing the connection to parents while struggling to find their place and connect in their peer world. The biggest danger for parents is trying to parent through power only instead of through relationship, thus eroding their bond and losing their influence on their child as she moves into the teen years.
Here are some tips to help you keep the channels of communication open between you and your pre-teen—and have a smoother transition into the teen years.
1. Set aside special time with your child.
It’s often tough to get pre-teens to open up and talk. Establish a special period of one-to-one time once or twice a week that you spend with every child, where you’re providing undivided attention, and you’re not working or texting at the same time,
In doing this you’re not only improving your relationship, you’re also teaching interpersonal skills that are going to be crucial in the future. That quality time is really key, and because our kids might be saying they don’t want it and be pulling away, we might unintentionally do not be consistent with.
2. Try the indirect approach.
When they were younger you could ask direct questions. How was school? How did you do on the test? Now, the direct approach bombing them with questions about school and their day—doesn’t work
Try to take the opposite approach and position yourself as mostly just a listener: If you actually just sit down, without questions, and just listen, or may be telling them about your day, you’re more likely to get the information about your child’s life that you’re wanting.
This approach gives kids the message that “this is a place where they can come and talk, and they have permission to say anything that they’re thinking or feeling.” Sometimes you’ll be able to help and give advice—but don’t try to step in and solve all their problems. Other times you’ll just be there to empathize with how hard it is to deal with whatever they’re going through.
3. Watch what they watch with them.
Watch the stuff that your child wants to watch with him. Work with them to become aware of the media and how to use appropriately.
4. Provide both unconditional love and appropriate limits.
Clear rules and expectations with love will help your child blossom and feel safe.
5. Show that you value education.
Stay in touch with your child’s teachers and school administration. Let him know that you expect him to work hard.
6. Monitor friendships.
Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Talk with him about friends and about choices he makes with friends.
7. Model good behavior.
The best way to raise a child who is loving, decent, respectful is to live the values and behavior you want him to develop.
8. Be alert to major problems
such as sexual harassments, depression and eating disorder. If the problem is too big to handle alone, get help from experts or trustful resources.
9. Provide appropriate opportunities for your child to succeed.
Help them to discover their strengths and talents. Encourage sports for girls.Girls’ self-esteem peaks at the age of 9 and then drops off from there, but research shows girls who play on teams have higher self-esteem. Generally, children on sports teams also tend to do better academically
10. Learn as much as you can about early adolescence.
Good information can help you make good decisions. Find out what changes you can expect during these years.
Finding just the right balance with your tween probably won’t be the easiest parenting job you’ve ever had. It will take some trial and error, but keeping the channels of communication open during these years is well worth the work you’ll have to put in.
If you develop trust with pre-teens you can offer them a safe place to come back to no matter what happens in the new world they’re inhabiting, and in doing that you’ll also be setting the stage for a smoother adolescence.