A Science Teacher, Content creator, constant Learner and a Mother.
Tips to Parenting your Pre-teens smooth transition to Adolescence
Pre-teen or tween is a transition phase for any child-a phase of confusion for the child and everyone around them. Most parents treat the pre-teen as a kid, siblings look up to them as adults for opinions, and the tween is unable to judge between right and wrong-- well, most of the time.
Usually, adolescence is much hyped and talked about in articles, magazines, and books. But trust me, if you have a grip of your child's psychology in their pre-teen, the transition to teenage life will be a cakewalk.
1. Blame Hormones for the Disconnect
A child in pre-teen suddenly starts behaving differently. They feel nobody understands them, wants them, or be friends with them. They seem confused and irritated all the time. This feeling makes them want little or nothing to do with you. Parents feel a bit let down. The child who was always close to the parents since childhood alienates them. The tween period (9-12 years) has completely changed the child.
What the tween doesn’t know here is that they need you more than ever. Sounds confusing? The child may drift away from you, confide more in peer-group, spend less or no time with you, avoid your queries but believe me, don’t get disheartened, It’s the raging hormones that are making them behave this way.
Instead, try to build a strong relationship with your ward now, in order to smooth sail the turbulent adolescence. But it won’t be easy. As parents, you will have to respect your child’s small independence to keep up with this `new` version of your pre-teen.
2. Don't feel Intimidated by your Tween’s Self -Reliance
It’s normal for kids this age to start turning away from their parents and relying more and more on friends. This is normal at this age. Some parents feel daunting by the distance and misinterpret it as deliberate. This is the time when children start to have secrets from you.
As parents, we need to be vigilant about the tween’s activities. Friends could be invited home for lunch or catch up on a movie or organize some fun activity etc. to know them better. Parents can observe how their tween behaves with friends and peer groups. This will help parents to analyze their child's behavior in society.
3. Be a Good Listener
When kids were younger, you could ask them simple and direct questions:
How was school?
Who are your friends?
Did anyone annoy you?
How did you do the test?
Do you enjoy going to school?
Now, this direct approach won’t work as the tween might feel intrusive and revolt.
You have to take the opposite approach and might have to position yourself just as a listener. This way, you’re more likely to get information about your tween's life.
When asked, you can give advice and help but don’t try to step in and solve all their problems. Other times, you can empathize with how difficult it is to deal with the present life.
4. Spend Quality Time with your Tween.
It’s often tough to get pre-teen to open up and talk. Parents should sit with their tween and chalk out a special period of one-on-one talk twice or thrice a week. This quality time spent with your tween will help cement your relationship with your growing child.
The tween will first oppose this quality time citing some excuses but as parents, you can spend less time initially and gradually when the tween feels connected, heard, appreciated, and wanted, you can increase the duration to three to four days a week. This quality time will teach interpersonal skills to your pre-teen that will be helpful in the future.
5. Be Aware of what they do
Watching and doing the stuff that your child wants to do and watch, and being able to laugh and talk about silly things was easy in the early years of a child’s growth. But not now. A tween will be more secretive than ever. They will try to avoid your presence and when you are around, they would try to distract you. or blatantly tell you to leave.
It’s our job as parents to help them choose between good and bad, build opinions about things, burst their myths and make sure they confide in you for all their silly questions which the world otherwise will laugh at.
6. Respect your Pre-teen
Your child is growing up and soon will be an adolescent. Pre-teens have started forming their opinions on all the things they see and observe. So a parent should respect the opinions of their tween. This attitude will fill the child with confidence and self-worth.
This is the time when parents should start treating their tweens as little mature grown-ups. For example: taking their opinions on the matters of the house, like which cell phone to buy, what should be done over the weekend? Where to go for outings, what should be the theme of the party, etc. This will make the pre-teen believe that they also are one of the important members of the house.
7. Don’t overreact, Be passive
There are some moms and dads, who when in a bad situation makes things worse. For example, your daughter comes in crying; she wasn’t invited to a birthday party. She sees a photo of it on Instagram. The parent says, “Oh dear, I can’t believe you weren’t invited! That’s bad! The parent keeps nagging all the time. This adds to the pre-teen’s already hyperactive thoughts.
Instead, parents should be more passive and try not to fuel the child’s emotions. They should give the child enough time and space to normalize the situation. Usually, pre-teens sought out the problems on their own but if the need arises parents may pacify them by giving the correct advice.
8 .Don't be Over Critical
At this age, your children are watching you. They closely judge your behaviour and how critical you can be. They are taking cues on how you talk and have opinions about other people’s children, especially when children get into trouble- how that girl dresses, her mannerisms or that boy is in the good company of friends or bad.
For example, a parent says, “I can’t believe he posted this video on Facebook! If we were his parents we’d be embarrassed!” They are commenting on behaviours that need commenting on, but the strong words and rigidity of the judgment might make them uncomfortable and they would start hiding things from you.
9. Girls should do more group activities
During growing up years, girls become more introverted and secretive. Their self–esteem peaks at the tender age of 9 and then drop off there. Many are not comfortable with their growing body changes. But research shows girls who play on teams have higher self-esteem and they tend to have fewer body image issues.
On the other hand, girls who don't indulge in sports and other group activities, tend to suffer from low self-esteem and keep comparing themselves with photoshopped images of models who set wrong standards of beauty.
Schools can organize regular group activities to instil confidence in them, counseling can also help them overcome their inhibitions and shortcomings if any.
10. Boys can be Emotional too
One of the difficult things for boys at this age is showing their emotions. They perceive that the feeling of love, sadness, vulnerability is for girls, therefore bad. They are opening up to a society that gives them the norm that a boy should be strong, emotionless, happy, and never weak.
As parents, you can tell them that it’s okay to be sensitive and vulnerable at home. They should also be told to read good books, indulge in sports and other activities which involve groups so that their development takes place in a natural way.
To conclude, finding the right balance with your pre-teen won’t be an easy job. It would involve a trial and error method and trust me, communication is the only way to make this relationship work. If you develop trust with your pre-teen you can offer them a safe haven to come back to, no matter what happens in the new world they are adjusting to, and will surely pave their way to smoother adolescence.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Poonam Francis