Parents usually get a different sense of drama, mystery, comedy and self-help while raising a tween or teen.
I know because I've raised a daughter and a nephew!
Roller coaster emotions and bizarre behavior leave many at their wits' end. Yet, the high, low, and extreme emotions that 10-14-year-old children express are completely normal!
From self-image to social status, it’s a critical period of massive change. It’s a time of major transformations for parents too; however, there are things that you can do to avoid pitfalls and ensure that everyone survives it!
Each child has traits, preferences and interests that are unique. During this phase of your tween's development, she is full of curiosity about herself, peers and role in her the world of friends as well as family. A considerable amount of their time is spent socializing using fashion, social media and music to articulate who they are.
Because they don’t know any better, they unfairly compare themselves to other children that they are around. They also have major attitudes that change just like the weather! All of these characteristics are indicative of a child who is entering into a new phase of growing up.
Dealing with a tween who thinks she knows everything at 10-12 can really test your patience! In fact, during my I Love You But I Can't Stand You Right Now mother-daughter seminar, now masterclass, some parents have shared that they find it challenging not to use their pre-tween parenting style when dealing with their developing child.
My response is that when children are younger, they need more instructions because they haven’t developed the necessary skills to judge and make decisions independently. However, as they grow up and gain more independence research shows that their development is enhanced by guidance, support and a positive relationship with their parents.
The following are a few ways to avoid some of the pitfalls of parenting tweens:
Focus on a healthy relationship
When it comes to tweens and teens, parenting from a perspective of power can backfire. Tweens oftentimes revolt and become defiant instead. However, cultivating a healthy relationship with your tween or teen can help the two of you get through this turbulent phase. The basis of all healthy relationships is love, respect, mutual concern, warmth, laughter and trust. When children have those fundamentals in relationships at home, it positively affects the way they feel about themselves, their interactions with peers, and, people abroad.
Don’t take mood swings personally
Even the most patient parents are tried when their tween slams a door, rolls his eyes or becomes snappy. However, it’s important to understand that mood swings are largely due to the enormous amount of hormonal changes that your tween is experiencing. Boys and girls experience invisible and visible physical changes that make them feel less secure, question their identity, and search for understanding about how to deal with the transformation. Monitor the changes in your tween’s emotions, academic performance, interactions with others as well as diet and sleeping patterns. If you notice behavior in excess of basic brooding, consult with a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional.
Set dates for family fun
Tweens and teens need to have fun with their parents even when they act like they don’t. They actually like spending time with you, but, you have to be intentional about it. Set dates for doing fun things together. It doesn’t have to be a major outing. It can be as simple as baking cookies, decorating or organizing a room, watching a movie together, a DIY project, attend a college athletic game together…the ideas are endless! The most important thing here is the special time that you spend together. It conveys support, love, and that you have a meaningful connection with your tween.
Nurture your tween’s quest for his identity
The remarkable behavioral changes that tweens experience include: mood swings; a quest to discover self and individuality; a greater inclination to succumb to social forces like peer pressure; and, less interest in spending time with parents. However, as your tween moves towards more independence, he still needs your guidance and support. Encourage activities that help your child use her natural abilities, express special gifts and show her uniqueness. For example, if she’s good at playing a particular sport, encourage her participation in school and/or extracurricular activities that will help her cultivate those skills. Even if you're homeschooling, there are several virtual options.
Trust me, you can thrive while raising tweens and teens!
Trevicia Williams, Ph.D. is a strong lives empowerment coach, motivational speaker, and America's leading subject matter expert on healthy relationships and human behavior in an ever-changing world. Follow her on Twitter @DrTrevicia and learn more at www.treviciawilliams.com