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Respect & Tweens: Reciprocity & Patience

by Michele | May 6th, 2024 | Behavior, Tweens
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I cannot stress this enough, the tween years can be hard. For everyone involved. Out of the pre-college parenting years, I think middle school is the hardest. The kids are trying to figure out where they fit, are dealing with hormonal fluctuations, and are having greater responsibilities placed upon them. Their parents are trying to figure out how to deal with them during this time.

However, a difficult age doesn’t mean that tweens get a pass on behavior. Even more so, they need to be reminded that good behavior is key. Having waded through the tween years with my two children, I think there are two key issues.

1. Implement the golden rule.

Do you expect your child to listen attentively when you speak? Of course you do. Do you provide her with that same level of attention when she speaks? Maybe her story about the drama with her favorite boy band isn’t all that exciting, but it is important to her. If your child runs late, do you expect him to be gracious and apologize for his tardiness? More than likely you do. When you run a few minutes late to drop your child off somewhere, do you apologize?

There are many other examples I could list, but I think my point is clear. If you treat your children the way you expect them to treat you, you will get better results. Not only will they learn by example, but they will see that you are respectful of them, their thoughts, and their actions.

2. Count to ten.

The tween years are trying, and sometimes hormones get the best of your child. Give him ten seconds to compose himself when his behavior is out of line. Here’s an example:

You ask your 11 year old son to clean his room. His reply is, “Now?! Do I have to?”

You could immediately lecture him on a multitude of things: his room is a disaster, his reply is disrespectful, he doesn’t appreciate the wonderful life he has. Or you could compose your thoughts and ask, “Is that an appropriate reply?”

Let your tween know that whining isn’t acceptable but negotiating is. Teach him how to solve the problem rather than complain. Perhaps he could ask to do it in 30 minutes (with good reason). Maybe he needs a reminder that he wants to have plans with a friend later, so he needs to clean now.

I’m not advocating that you let your tween walk all over you; I’m just suggesting that you keep your reaction subdued. No need to add gas to the fire. Again it comes back to teaching by example. Although she may not see it in the moment, eventually she’ll realize how calm you stay. With time (and fewer hormonal disruptions) she, too, will be able to react more calmly.

Finally, we all have bad days. If you’ve had one of those and not shown your best self to your child, apologize. You’d be amazed at how appreciative they are when you admit that you were wrong. Kids like to know that parents are human, too.

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