HOW TO HANDLE TWEEN BEHAVIOR
When your child grows into a teenager, her attitude is likely to change. As a parent, you may be confronted with talking back, yelling at you, or rolling her eyes. While parents are often bound to shock or may even feel angry, it is indeed perfectly normal for a tween to act like this. With adolescence looming, children naturally feel compelled to start going their own way. Their onset of sassiness is a path toward individuation, a process in which tweens try to figure out who they are without their parents. While tweens’ behavior can be disconcerting, it is essential, as parents, to guide them through these years.
Here are a few tips to help your tween in her journey:
1. Keep acting as a parent. While it may be tempting to be your child’s friend, it is indeed counterproductive. In fact, it is essential to maintain your parental status. Tweens are looking to parents to help them get through this confusing stage. The way parents deal with any given situation gives them cues for how to behave themselves.
2. Implement new rules as your tween gains more independence. Prioritize what is truly important and state it clearly to your tween. For instance, you may ignore eye-rolling or heavy sighs, but not voice raising or walking off the room in the middle of a conversation. Communication should be clear and calm, and interventions should happen as soon as you notice an unacceptable behavior.
3. Distance yourself emotionally from arising conflicts. When a discussion between you and your tween escalates, step back and wait for things to calm down. Taking a break from tensions is a healthy way to defuse high emotions. When the parent stays calm and composed, it helps her tween to collect herself. Voice what you are expecting next “It seems like we cannot talk right now. So, let’s calm down first and then we can talk later. Let me know when you are ready.”
4. Engage in privileged facetime. Spend time regularly with your tween to just hang out together. This casual time is an opportunity for her to open up about a specific topic that might be not easy to talk about. The goal is to keep the communication channel free of judgement and open so that your tween knows you are available to talk about anything. If you are not available when your tween wants the conversation, let her know when you are. For instance, tell her “I do need to finish this work now, but I will be free in 20 minutes.”
In order to deal the best with a tween attitude, a calm approach is recommended as overreacting will only escalate the situation. Also, rules need to be firm, but fair to everyone. Finally, listen carefully to what your tween has to say and give her an appropriate reply that is acceptable to all parties.
WHY BOREDOM IS GOOD FOR YOUR CHILD
Most parents have a difficult time to deal with their child being bored. We feel it is our responsibility to keep our child entertained at all times and might even feel guilty if we do not respond to our child’s need to be busy. When a child starts to get bored and complains about it, our natural tendency is to solve her problem right away. Structured activities and technological entertainment are the most common solutions. However, studies have shown multiple benefits to the boredom state.
Here are a few benefits:
1. Boredom improves creativity. When a child is given the opportunity to have unstructured time, she is free to explore her inner and outer worlds, which is the beginning of creativity. Imagining, inventing, and creating are essential to the development of a healthy child. Building a fort in the backyard, make a monster from clay, or writing a short story or song are activities leading to the passions that make life meaningful.
2. Boredom is beneficial to your child’s psychological well-being. After some minor complaining, your child will find something interesting to do. Self-directed play is constructive because play is a child’s work. It is how your child works out emotions and experiences she has had. When a child plays freely, she learns how to work collaboratively, share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and stand her for herself. In free play, the child has control and practice asserting it.
3. Boredom teaches how to manage time. One of the biggest challenge as an adult is to learn to manage time well. So, a child needs unstructured time to learn how to use it. Her experience will teach her to manage time in her best interest.
So, next time your child tells you she is bored, how can you respond?
You need to take into consideration her question seriously and focus on your child for a few minutes. Even though it is your child’s job to figure out what to do, you are here to help her brainstorm ideas with her. You may want to create a Boredom Jam filled with ideas written on pieces of paper. You and your child can both contribute to write the ideas. Then, when your child says she is bored, she can pick three pieces of paper from the jar and choose an activity to do.
Here are a few ideas for a Boredom Jar: make a dollhouse out of cardboard, make a birthday card for the next person you know is having a birthday, put on some music and dance, get a magnet and make a list of everything that is magnetized in your house, make a zoo for the stuffed animals, make an obstacle course, have a water balloon fight (outside!),…
Instead of looking at boredom as an issue, let’s see it as an opportunity for your child to be creative, to learn to manage time, and to benefit her psychological well-being. Every child could take advantage of being bored as this could be the beginning of an exploration of her inner and outer worlds.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.