For the most part, children want to please us. Yes, they are forming new identities and making more of their own choices, but they still need us to guide them to make the most appropriate choices.
We should welcome this new chapter in our children’s lives. It is a necessary step towards becoming self-reliant individuals. We don’t want our children to stay dependent forever; that is not healthy or natural. However, anytime we see a high level of growth, we can also expect some ‘growing pains’. That is why many experts compare this stage of development to that experienced during the ‘terrible twos’.
So, what can we do to help our pre-teens navigate these turbulent waters safely? Following is a list of suggestions to aid you in your quest to maintain a solid relationship with your pre-teen and avoid some of the pitfalls associated with this period.
You May Notice:
- An increased interest in fads concerning hair-styles, clothing, and music.
- The desire to spend more time alone.
- Friends (and their opinions) becoming more important.
- Frequent forgetfulness.
- Becoming somewhat secretive.
- Increased risk taking.
- Occasionally coming home late.
What Should You Do?
- Practice the 3 “W’s”- Know where your children are, know what they are doing, and who they are with!
- Let your pre-teen help decide a few important rules and the consequences for breaking them. For instance- curfew times, places that are off limits, and activities that are unacceptable. They will be more likely to follow rules they helped to create.
- Spend quality time with your children. Staying involved in their lives is the single biggest return on an investment you can get!!
- Listen. If you listen when they talk about the ‘little things’, they will be more apt to discuss the ‘big’ issues with you later on.
- Keep them busy! Encourage them to get involved in appropriate extra-curricular activities.
- Stay positive. Expect the best from your child and you will get it.
- Be an example of the behavior you wish to see.