For about a year, my house has been hit with my daughter’s constant eye rolling and arguing. At first I thought an attitude storm hit my house but I’ve come to realize what I’ve been dealing with is the precursor to the tween years.
What are the tween years?
It’s the range of years, 8-12 years old, right before the real deal teen years.
Here’s a little insight on what that looks like: my 10-year-old daughter Nyah absolutely thinks she’s an 18-year-old. Yikes. And while I’m pleased to see maturity in her behavior, at times I wish she would just act her age. It’s been a struggle with all the incessant talking back and lately, I found myself pausing often and wondering: “where did my sweet little girl go?”
Although I’ve to come to terms with the fact that this is only a phase that she is getting older, that she does and should have opinions…it’s still been a challenge to deal with.
To help myself, I’ve been turning to fellow mommas who have experience in these infamous tween years. There’s so much to learn from one another and I’ve always been a firm believer in asking for support in areas where I lack experience myself. It’s been really insightful and some of the advice I’ve been getting is really obvious but in the daily hustle, we can easily forget. I’ve been making a true effort to incorporate these tips into my daily interactions with my daughter and honestly, things are going so much better. While I don’t have all the answers, here are a few pieces of advice that have really stuck with me.
- Schedule one on one time together. Run errands together, go have lunch, anything but make time for just you two. It’s hard for tweens to open up so this is a good way to give your undivided attention to her allowing her to have time and space to open up.
- Let her be independent. At first, it is so incredibly hard to let kids have freedom. But as with anything in parenting, you have to trust and allow your kids to try things on their own. You have to let them have their space…let them fly, let them fall. For example, I used to make it a point to help with homework every single night, but now Nyah doesn’t want me to sit with her. She keeps saying “Mom, I got it.” So I’m learning to get it. These days, I let her do her work on her own and once she’s done, I look over it. We then review together and correct as necessary.
- Try not to overreact. Overreacting pushes people away in general and kids are no different. So, I’ve been trying a different approach. I’ve been making a concerted effort to ask her questions about why she feels a certain way instead of immediately responding with my opinions or feedback. I let her know that I am ready and available when she wants to talk about it. For example, recently she came home upset because she was not invited to a play date. In that moment, I didn’t overreact with a “Omg! No way. I can’t believe that.” but instead I told her that her friend perhaps just wanted one on one time with another friend. I told her I was here for her if she needed to vent and that it was normal to be sad or feel left out. And that if she wanted to plan something else to do, I could help her with that too. As parents, it’s not our job to put a “band-aid” on every single thing but it is our job to teach the right attitude in response to every single sting. It’s so critical to teach the bigger life lesson of “we win some and lose some” from an early age. The lesson that you don’t get your way all the time but that your reaction is the most important of all.
- Be a friend when you need to be and a parent all the time. This is hard at times. Nyah is really open right now and it’s something I hope stays but when she is making a terribly wrong decision, I am equally open to call her out on it. I love that she can come home and tell me her friend issues, things that went wrong in her day or even share with me the things that were so good, but I am quite aware of when I need to step in and be the parent. I realize the boundaries.
- Know what is going on. I know some parents think that a 8-12 year old doesn’t know much, but when you act “clueless” as a parent, sometimes it can lead to an even bigger disaster. Know what’s going on, know who she is hanging out with and if it’s the right crowd. I direct Nyah to friends who have a good family background, same value system as our family. This is very important because the kids that your children hang around with, shapes them and you want them to be around the right influences and on the right path.
I honestly have come to terms with this phase and have become so much better dealing with it. At first, it was really hard for me, but these tips have helped Nyah and I have better communication skills and we both have come to a place where we know how to talk to one another. In the end, it’s what this whole mother-daughter thing is about…strengthening our relationship. Because if that is strong, it can survive any “attitude storms” that hit us anytime.