When do parents begin to deal with teen years all that they bring? The answer is always the same: much sooner than they expected! Not even teenagers are the same any more, as they are not regular children before, but they are already “tweenagers”. Yes, the challenge starts way early for most parents, so it’s best if you’re reading this prior to tween years even. If not, start applying these tips as soon as possible.
Building a special relationship and trust should begin long before your child exhibits the first signs of puberty. Asking about his or her day and monitoring their activities and routines, enquiring about their successes and doubts is what you should be doing all the time. When you really know your child, you’ll be able to notice any mood swings or unusual behavior and react timely.
Therefore, if you wish to have the answers to questions such as “What’s wrong?”, “Are you feeling sad?” “Is anything going on with your body?”, you should know the only way to get honest responses is to be ready to listen to your children talk about a lot of other things that comprise their lives, even if they were as trivial as a forgotten notebook.
Most children have the urge to change their appearance in teen years. It can be because they wish to resemble their idols, a way of rebellion, or establishing a clear difference from who they “used to be”, or even from you. Whatever it is they have in mind (piercings, hair dying, different clothes, makeup…), do not suppress it completely.
Children at that age still believe the only way to stand out is to do it in the most obvious way – through their physical appearance. Surely, some boundaries have to exist, but don’t allow yourself any outbursts as this will only backfire. Instead, dedicate yourself to them without too many reproaches. Another reason why they’re doing this is to get YOUR (possibly negative) attention. Should you react harshly, that is just one huge encouragement for them as negative attention is still just that – attention!
Set the rules
Just like they were little. If you wish for your kids to respect them, they must be very clear, just as much as the rewards and the consequences. Not breaking the curfew is their responsibility, and yours is not to text them every now and then reminding them of it.
Also, since they are older now, that means they can take on more chores around the house. If you make it something both of you can do together, you’ve got yourself a bonding opportunity, too.
Of course, you could also find something more enjoyable to do together, and this should be made a rule as well. No Cancellations! It can be whatever you want, as long as you both enjoy it.
Get informed and be informative
You should read advice about this tricky period, just like once upon a time What to Expect When You’re Expecting was your favorite read. If you wish to talk to your child about the dangers of exposing oneself via social media and means of communication, then you could read an article on the dangers of sexting to give you some ideas. Surely, you are well aware why drugs or smoking is dangerous, but you will get some good ideas how to present it to your teen. After all, our reasoning and theirs are much different at the moment, aren’t they? Just remember the last time you were explaining why it is important to get good grades and how distant and unreal the prospect of a great career seemed to them.
Finally, don’t forget about yourself and your time to unwind. Raising a teenager has a lot to do with patience, and you can’t boast that quality if you are feeling stressed most of the time.