I always wondered if writing about parenting was a no-no since I am not a parent. But the thing is, I have been around kids and youth (especially tweens) as long as I can remember and I was one not TOO long ago. I like to think of myself as the middle (wo)man. I believe we’re all in this together and “when you know better you do better,” so no judgement here.
Our word is the most powerful thing we own.
I believe that our word is the most powerful thing we own and in that case we must choose our words Kindly. ESPECIALLY when we speak to tweens. Think of being a tween – the world is a big scary place made up of a whole lot of unknowns. The last thing you need is your parents disapproval and judgement.
Use your words Kindly.
Speak up about all the beautiful things you see in them. And by beautiful I do not just mean looks-wise (however for tweens this is often a very insecure space so as long as you reassure them of their overall beauty, kindness here won’t hurt).
Sometimes negative is easier then positive but watch your words, because unfortunately tweens hold them close. For all the negative things we’ve ever said to them we have to say about a hundred more positive ones in order to wash away the pain. How do I know this is true? Ask any adult what they think of themselves. All answers are a foundation of what our parents “told” us about ourselves. Confidence is rooted in the self-image we created as youth, founded by words spoken or unspoken by our parents. See, that’s the thing, even no words can hurt.
Communication is key!
Your tweens need to HEAR your view of them often. They need to know that you’re proud, inspired and filled with joy because of them. I always think of it like this: What do I, as an adult, need as reassurance? Multiply that by a whole lot and that’s the amount that your tween needs.
While choosing your words kindly about your tweens, choose your words kindly about yourself too. The thing is, they learn from you. So whatever “imperfection” you speak about yourself they look for in themselves. For example, as women we often complain about our bodies – this is a whole topic in and of itself which I hope to talk about in the very near future. When we complain about our bodies in front of our tweens they automatically view their body as a battleground of imperfection. Make sense? It’s all about love, kindness and acceptance.
Parents are humans & humans make mistakes.
Like I said before, no judgement. Choose your words kindly with yourself and it becomes natural to do with others. Parents are humans and humans make mistakes; forgive yourself. If you let unkind words and thoughts slip out to or about your tween, apologize! Explain to them that you made a mistake out of anger (or whatever emotion you were experiencing) and that it was not a reflection of how you truly feel about them. And then let out some Kind words. It will feel good for you and your tween.
Like parents, kids aren’t perfect. Allow them to make mistakes and kindly direct them along their way. Think of life with your tween as a huge race track of obstacles you have to get through together. Take it slow, leaving time to connect with your tween about how you can both do better. I promise you: kindness will be your most powerful tool in parenting your tween.
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About Stephanie Mulhall
Stephanie Mulhall is a Certified Youth + Parent Coach & founder of With Kindness Coaching. She has worked closely with youth for over five years and has a passion for working with individuals to discover their greatest strengths and deepest dreams through the practice of Inner Kindness. Follow Stephanie on Facebook or Instagram at @withkindnesscoaching.