Parenting through the tween years
Tweenhood is a challenging time for both parents and tweens. Family relationships can often become quite strained as everyone learns to adjust to the inevitable changes and fluctuating emotions. Conversations with tweens can quickly become fraught with emotion, and at times it may even seem like you hardly know your child anymore.
During our recent conversation with educator and author Annie Fox on the subject of parenting tweens and her new book “Teaching Kids to be Good People,” Annie remarked on the irony that our children “need our love the most when they are at their most unlovable.” Anyone who has ever had a conversation with a moody tween probably understands exactly how hard (but necessary) this can be!
Annie has been answering emails from teens, tweens and parents online since 1997 and really understands the psyches of tweens and teenagers. She wrote the following tips for parents to improve their relationships with their teenage son or daughter, but these tips are just as applicable to pre-teens.
Annie’s 10 Tips for Improving Parent-Teen Relationships
Parents of teens have one of the roughest jobs around. The dynamic between you and your son/daughter is changing so quickly that it’s challenging to stay focused on your job description. You knew very well what the job entailed when the kids were younger, but now, it’s not always such a clear call. There’s no single golden rulebook for parenting (though I’ve got lots of great books to recommend), but keeping these 10 tips in mind will go a long way in helping you stay centered. And that’s exactly where you have to be to be an effective parent and role model for your adolescent kids.
- Remember that you are the parent — Your job is to protect your child and prepare him/her to become a fully functioning adult. Being a leader and a compassionate teacher is more important than being your teen’s friend.
- Remain calm — Nothing gets resolved when stress makes it impossible to think clearly. Can’t respond rationally? Then take a break until you can.
- Talk less and listen more — Just like the rest of us, teens want to be respected and heard. Be a “safe” and available person to talk to.
- It’s a balancing act — A key challenge in parenting teens is to remain emotionally connected while granting your kids more privacy and autonomy.
- They’re always watching – Want your teen to be trustworthy, responsible, and compassionate? Make sure you’re modeling those values in your own life.
- Make your expectations clear and be consistent with your follow-through— If kids know the consequences ahead of time and they’ve bought into the rules of the house, they’re more likely to make healthy choices.
- Catch your teen in the act of doing something right — Praise shows that you noticed their efforts. It also promotes a feeling of competency.
- Be real — Father/mother does NOT always know best. Admit your own confusion and mistakes. Apologize when appropriate. Show your kids that just like them, you too are also “a work in progress.”
- Regularly create time to enjoy being a family — Having regular meals together and relaxing, unplugged from digital technology, is a gift with long-lasting benefits.
- Lighten up! — Humor is a great de-stressor. Remember, no one stays a teen (or the parent of a teen) forever!
This article was written by Annie Fox, M.Ed, and originally posted on AnnieFox.com. Reposted here with permission from Annie.
Do you need advice for parenting your tween? Annie’s been answering questions from kids and parents since 1997 and understands tweens like few people do. Submit your parenting question to Annie here.
Image courtesy of hotblack on MorgueFile.
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About Kathy Sima
Kathy is a blogger and freelance writer and mom of two teens who gave up her career as a financial advisor when her son was diagnosed with autism at age 3. When it comes to parenting, Kathy truly believes there is strength in numbers and knows that sharing stories and strategies with other parents has helped keep her sane (so far!)