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.
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.