Managing tween behavior
We have all been tweens, and we know that it is a difficult stage in life. Today that adolescence is compounded by sophisticated technology and continued peer pressure. It goes without saying that you want to keep smoking, drinking, drugs, and “sexting” away from your child.
An article in Parenting (www.parenting.com) by Linda Rodgers addresses the discipline mistakes that parents make. Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg, who wrote Building Resilience in Children and Teens, says it is normal for kids to test their limits, but if you build a close relationship with your tween, you may be able to offset the pressures.
- Raise your expectations by expecting compassion and not negativity.
- Find the right balance between permissive and strict parenting. Make child accountable for actions while having warm relationship.
- Stay connected. Be available and attempt to be informed about whatever is happening.
- Help them handle stress by modeling healthy coping skills.
- Keep them busy but not too busy with extracurricular activities. Sports are especially good for tweens due to the team aspect.
- Keep tabs on their friends.
There is a “fine line between giving them personal space and keeping them safe.” (Eve Pearlman, www.webMD.com). With social media messaging, IMs, taking and sending photos, and online chatting, parents need to be engaged. Don’t be intimidated, but be aware of what your child is doing.
If your child’s behavior is rude, www.parenting.com has explanations. The onset of “sassiness” is part of the onset of adolescence, and a once mellow child can be moody and rude when you least expect it. They are figuring out who they are, and gain their independence. They are on the path to individuation. Girls tend to overreact and get dramatic, boys withdraw or are defiant. The Everything Tween Book by :Linda Sonna, Ph.D., addresses how the tween looks to parents for help in this confusing time.
Communicate positively, and don’t wait till it’s things get out of control before you react to tween behavior. If things are serious, consider taking away a cell phone or other favorite device.
- Maintain your parental status.
- Draw clear lines in the sand.
- Choose a tween-appropriate punishment for infractions.
- Reciprocate respect.
- Let her stew. Step back and wait for calm.
- Set aside face time, with just the two of you.
- Fan the home fires; save time for family.
Los Angeles’ USC research (www.news.usc.edu) has provided ongoing studies about “sexting,” and whether it is a risk behavior. They do find a correlation between sexting and sexual behavior among high school age students. The studies show that parents may want to monitor the cellphone so that there is not unlimited or excessive texting
Malia Jacobson in Metroparent (www.metroparent.com) describes how to handle your tween’s attitude problem. The tween years are characterized by eye rolling, back talk, slouching, avoiding parents’ gaze, and peer worship. This is a form of revolt, and tweens see back talk as defending themselves. Tweens will also use public back talk, and the best way to diffuse this is to cut things short and remove the child from the situation. When moods are interfering, it is best to wait until things are calm. To deal with peer relationships, find ways to connect whether texting, shopping, or listening. If you are there for your child, they will begin to share with you.