Has your fun loving adorable child turned into an unrecognizable fresh mouthed “Tween”? Do you wonder what went wrong? Did I make some horrible parental mistake to cause my child to morph into this alien nasty being? Her friends don’t act like this, or do they?
Rest assured you are not alone. Most all kids change in the tween years, that’s 8 to 12, and develop a testy unpredictable attitude towards you – ” THE PARENTAL UNIT”. They begin to see the freedoms and power of adulthood and they want to grow up as fast as possible. But of course they cannot speed up time and so they are very impatient and frustrated and they speak and act out towards you. You, who makes the rules and they see as the person who won’t let them have any fun.
Why can’t I stay up all night? Why can’t I go shopping every day? Why can’t I watch TV all day? Why can’t I walk to my friends house at night? And on and on and on,of course you must say “NO” a lot and then the fresh and sometimes nasty tongue gets out of hand. Try these tips to help curb the tween tongue.
1. During an afternoon, when there is harmony in the household, have a “sit down at the table” talk with the tween and both parents. Let them know you will not tolerate rude language from them and they will be disciplined for it. Be specific about what exactly crosses the line, and what the punishment will be. You will need to allow some behaviors from them that are acceptable expressions of frustration such as eye rolling, deep sighs, refusing to look at you , etc. These behaviors are not horrible, just very annoying.
2. Stick to the plan and don’t argue with them. When they are rude don’t get emotional. Wait awhile until the tension has subsided and then tell them they have earned a punishment of (whatever you decide is appropriate). It’s very important that you don’t get caught up into arguing with them. Once you tell them “No you are not allowed to do that because yada yada (your reason)”, walk away from them. If they keep nagging, ignore them and get away from them. Answering them once is enough. They enjoy the arguing, believe it or not, because they feel in control of you, so simply refuse to do it.
3. Give your tween some additional privileges as long as she has been behaving . Allow a little later bedtime. Allow her more of her own choices in clothing and room decor. Extend curfews for special parties and activities. These little freedoms send a message – That mature behavior has it’s rewards.
4. Assign your tween some household chores. Chores teach two things. They learn that growing up means assuming some of the work of managing a home and family. They also build self esteem because they are doing something that is important.
5. Together with your tween, plan and do some fun family activities. Even if they act like this is boring or they just “don’t want to”, make them do it anyway. They may act stubborn at first but they will soon forget to be grumpy and have a good time. Let them bring a friend along if you think this will encourage participation. Your tween needs to know that you enjoy being with them, even if they act like they don’t care. Deep down inside they do care very much.
The tween years bring on new challenges for parents. The fresh words they use can be shocking and hurtful to parents. A combination of discipline for the rude behavior and allowing some beginning adult responsibilities can curb this problem. Let the tween know the plan, stick to it, refuse to argue, allow some grown up responsibilities, and enjoy fun family time as well. Keep the parent and tween relationship both respectful and loving. The difficult teen years are next and you want to head into age 13 and beyond with a solid foundation.
By Terry Candee R.N. , B.S.N.