Tips for Talking to Your Tween

I’m entering unchartered territory here as a mother to a tween {with more to come} and so I enlisted the help of a certified nanny to give me advice on how to talk to my tween.  Maybe this will be helpful to you too?  And the good news?  If I do this whole mothering thing right, I might not scar my children for life!  Score!  Please note my insertions notated by {}.

Tips for Talking to Your Tween

There’s something that happens during every child’s pre-teen years that is devastating for parents. Seemingly overnight they go from being loving, respectful children who want to mimic everything you do and think that you walk on water to sullen, angry tweens that don’t want your advice or input on anything. You go from being the person that they run to when something goes wrong to the person that just doesn’t understand at all what they’re going through. Conversations that once flowed will become tense and forced. The bad news is this usually carries on through their teenage years as well. The good news is it will eventually pass and you’ll go back to being their confidante and, as they get older, even their friend. However while these troublesome years are happening parents have a tendency to make the situation worse, usually without evening meaning to, because they respond just as poorly to situations as their tweens. The next time you’re met with averted eyes and a dismal attitude keep these things in mind:

1.     Don’t yell {shoot!}

As frustrated as you may be when your pre-teen is responding with grunts and head nods and as much as you may just want to start yelling at your tween to actually speak instead of clamming up, this is only going to cause them to pull into themselves and away from you even more.

2.     Don’t give unsolicited advice {say what???}

On the rare occasion that your tween does come running to you to vent about a girl or a boy or a problem at school it can be tempting to open with the standard, “well, honey, when I was your age…” Unfortunately, no matter how right you may be, they don’t want to hear about your life they want to complain about theirs, because they do believe there’s no way you could have gone through any of the same things they’re going through. Sometimes the best response is just to listen and let them make their own mistakes, hard as it may be to do so.

 3.     Don’t get preachy {but I love to get preach}

If your tween does come to you genuinely looking for some guidance swallow back the need to launch into a long sermon and instead give subtle advice while being very aware of and sensitive to their feelings and emotions. Coming across as too preachy can be a turn off for your pre-teen.

4.     Remain the parent {this is good news!}

It can be tempting to drop the parental act and approach them more as a friend during this stage of their life to try and gain back a level of trust and camaraderie. However they need you to be a parent right now, even if they don’t want you to be the parent.

5.     Be there for them {done!}

Even if they act like they don’t care if you’re there for them or not, the truth is they probably find comfort knowing that they can turn to you if something serious happens. Continue to offer unconditional love and support and be patient. They’ll come around.

The next time you feel like you’re at your wit’s end take a deep breath and remember that at one point you were a hormonal, unpredictable pre-teen also. This is just a phase.

Author Bio

Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of nanny service.  Learn more about her here.

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Comments

  1. 1

    says

    My neice just entered tween-hood and man…it was like a flip of the switch. “I’m too cool for you Auntie Kim”…well she did t say that but I can hear it in the “Ughhhh passhhhhsssaa” and the eye rolls.

  2. 2

    says

    Yep, yep yep. Tween years are fun stuff. I have a son who’s about to turn into a teenager and he’s been giving me the “teen attitude” since he was I think 9 or 10. It can be so frustrating! Thanks for the tips.

  3. 3

    says

    My oldest is 11 (12 in November). She is so much like me it’s scary. Outside of looks there’s mannerisms, the way she approaches people and situations, her interests, her likes/dislikes/pet peeves. It’s all uncanny. And subject to change, I know. I like to think that our similarities are what help me understand her or deal with her better. I know why she acts the way she does sometimes b/c I’d likely do/say the same. My middle girl, though, at 8? She is more like her father and I sometimes feel like I don’t know her at all, what motivates her, what makes her do the things she does.

  4. 5

    says

    As a mother of a 13 and 16 year old I can say from experience that Sara is delivering some spot on advice.

    Hey, thanks for highlighting moi as a top pick on WW. I have been really sick for the past week and haven’t had the energy to blog so I has no idea. So thanks Angie 🙂

  5. 6

    says

    I have 3 daughters (16, 12, 10) and man… I sure could have used this list a while ago. But then again some of it’s stuff we should know already, right? It’s just really difficult at time to stick to it. Maybe that’s just me…

  6. 7

    kristin says

    UGH! This is all good advice that is SO HARD to follow! Tess’ mood swings are so bad I’m dizzy half the time! And the CRYING! over NOTHING! I. Want. To. Kill. Her. But only half the time. The rest of the time, she is still the favorite child. It’s like a demon takes over her body for short bursts of time, and you never know when it’s going to happen!

  7. 34

    Rachelle Brancato says

    I am so scared of this stage. I know Lexi is rapidly approaching her tweens. The mood swings and like Kristen said…crying over nothing. Ugh. Thank you for the advice.

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