We have all been that awkward age, where we were too old for the little kid things and too young to hang with the teenagers. Yes that lovely age that starts when they are ten and lasts until they are 13. If you don't have children then I am sure you are thinking that is only 3 years, how bad can it be? That would be because you don't have children and you haven't had to experience this age period as a parent.
The goal this week is to offer tips on how you as a parent can survive this wonderful time of adolescences and help your child get through this transitional time.
Tip One: Teach Your Child How to Greet Someone
This may seem completely silly and useless, but have you watched how children at this age meet people. Their heads are down, they are mumbling and if you are lucky they will look in the direction of the person but not really at them. Meeting new people can be tricky, especially at this age because your child doesn't want to be seen as a little kid. Practice greetings with them. Teach them to stand up straight, to make eye contact with the person they are meeting or talking to. Make sure that they speak clearly. This will get them, "What a charming young man/lady," instead of the "what a cute little kid."
Tip Two: Know Your Child
It doesn't matter how old they are, you need to know who your children are friends with, who they are hanging out with and who they are talking to. No one should know your child better then you. This is important for keeping them safe, and encouraging them to make smart decisions as they become teenagers.
Tip Three: Use Proper Punishment
Different punishments work for different kids. For some taking things away will be what will work, for others it is grounding, some may need a firm talking to. The fact is that as they age, what will work will change. Pay attention to your punishment tactics, you want them to understand boundaries and when they are crossed you want o effectively make sure they will not cross them again.
Tip Four: Encourage Them To Try
While they are at the difficult age when fitting in is tough, try not to hold them back. Look I am a mom of three kids, I know how hard it is to let go… you want to protect them forever. We can't… and really it isn't helping them if we do. We want them to learn self reliance, and we want them to have faith that they can do what they set their minds to. Don't kick them out of the nest… but don't send them out without training wheels either.
Tip Five: Offer them Ways to Improve
This is important. When your child makes a mistakes, or breaks a rule and they are punished for their misbehavior make sure that you are giving them 5 chances to prove themselves again.
Tip Six: Address Dressing
There are times that I walk into the kids clothing section, even the teen section and cringe at what is being made for our kids to wear. It isn't as bad for the boys as it is for the girls. At this age your child wants to pick out their own clothes. They want to wear what their friends are wearing. Talk to your kids, and let them know what is acceptable and what isn't. The low cut shirt and the short shorts may be the in thing… but are they really what a 10, 11, 12 or 13 year old needs to be wearing?
Tip Seven: Empathize
You don't have to sulk and whine with your child, and you don't have to support or encourage their whining. What you need to do is remember how it felt to be that age and empathize with them. Tell them you understand how they feel. Tell them about what you did to get through this time. Talk to them and talk to them like they are intelligent little people. That is what they need right now. They need to know that this is temporary but an important part of growing up.
The tween years are not just challenging for us as parents, they are tough on our kids. By understanding where they are what they are going through we can all get through these three years and be better individuals for it.