Creative Child

Positive Parenting Tweens

by Rebecca Eanes

My firstborn son has entered tweenhood.

These are new waters for me, and that’s really what parenting is – growing, adapting, and learning new steps in this life-long dance.

While I adore the young man he’s become, I find myself longing to have him back in diapers, stacking blocks in the play room. Having a toddler is physically exhausting, but I knew basically what was going on in his mind and what his motivations were. Fussy? Have a snack or a nap.

Those things are no longer as clear. Fussy? Is it school work? A peer relationship? Something I said? A bad episode of Lab Rats? Who knows? Here’s what I’ve worked out so far about being a positive parent to a tween.

1. Communication is different.

Tweens don’t want to chat as much as young kids do, at least not my tween boy. While my 7-year-old will chatter on and on about everything under the sun, I have to be more proactive about communicating with my older child now. He doesn’t just spill whatever is on his mind, and it seems like there is always something deep going on in there.

I’ve found that it’s easier at times for us to write back and forth to each other in a simple notebook or to have a discussion while I’m driving. If I ask him what’s on his mind point blank, I usually get “nothing” and a shoulder shrug.

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It’s also really important with tweens to not be too quick to rattle off your judgements and advice and to tame your big reactions. Make talking feel safe for him or her. I have also realized that this is an important time for him to hear stories from our own youth. He loves to hear about things my husband and I went through at his age and how we dealt with them.

So my rules for communicating with my tween are:

  • engage in a conversation
  • make it feel comfortable
  • watch reactions
  • listen to understand
  • share stories

2. They need space and respect.

Well, all children need respect, but he’s at an age where he understands the concept of respect now. In other words, he knows when he’s getting it. Being a sensitive introvert like myself, I acknowledge and respect his need for space and time alone. Getting his extroverted little brother to understand this need is challenging.

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