So you’ve got preteens or early teens. Congratulations, you’ve entered a fresh new chapter. (Some call it a fresh new hell! But it doesn’t have to be that way.) It should be an exciting relationship building time – fraught with challenges, conversations and collaborations.
When kids are under 10 and their behaviour is inappropriate we reprimand, discipline and when required punish. But as they get older how we treat them should change. Our relationship dynamics change and rightly so. We don’t want them to remain children we want them to grow into responsible and respectful young adults. Preteen and early teen parenting requires less to no discipline, and
more relationship building and communication – listening, a LOT, and using teachable moments to mentor, to guide and to provide insights
(which doesn’t mean there’s no phone confiscations, screen time modifications or increased chores at times – these can be great behaviour and attitude modifiers when a message isn’t getting through!).
Many will state they want more independence, great, that’s what you want for them too – help them gain this by giving them the independence to make their own breakfasts and lunches every day, the independence to contribute to the family by planning, cooking and cleaning up from a family dinner once a week, the independence to be doing their own washing, and the independence to go to the movies with friends without you (or whatever activity it is – within safe guidelines of course) using money they earned themselves from chores around the house.
In our home I look for teachable moments (okay so I don’t have to look they turn up every bloody day in a stack of different ways!) and address the real issues, the root causes and work from there. This is only possible by having open dialogue with them, keeping the lines of communication open, being in their lives, actively And setting a standard of respect in the home – respect for self plus respect for others.
If you find your preteen arguing back, this is a great sign that they trust you enough to dialogue with you (silence is never golden, silence is hard to break!). When it becomes an issue is when it’s done with disrespect. Teach them this. Teach them they can argue and disagree with anyone at anytime as long as they do it with respect and have done their research and can back themselves up with facts.
Remember especially preteen and teen girls have a host of self esteem and self confidence issues – help them improve their sense of self worth. Guard what they watch and listen to (and who). Affirmations and positive role models and influences. Encouragement from you – if you as their parent are not their greatest champion, you’re parenting all wrong.
And never be afraid to call in reinforcements. Parenting is not for the faint hearted – consult others – friends, psychologists, articles, coaches, other people of influence in your child’s life.
Seek to build relationship and use teachable moments, putting behind you the years of punishing and disciplining. Let them see you vulnerable and human. Say you’re sorry when you need to and be the type of person you want them to be. We teach people how to treat us, if you don’t like the way your preteen or teen is treating you, change how you respond and teach them how to treat you with respect.
And we do this by building relationships with them: discussions (where they’re allowed to disagree with you!), hugs, encouragement, building a family team environment, listening, loving unconditionally, expecting and setting respect as a standard, and being their greatest champion (when they KNOW you have their back you’ll have a different child on your hands).
You’ve got this xo
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