It takes a village, they say, to raise a child. Well it also takes as many hints, tips, and tricks as possible to make your life easier and to build a stronger relationship with your child. That doesn’t mean your little bundle of joy will make it easy for you as they grow older. Your child has three different phases: toddler, tween, and teen. In this three part series, we will be bringing you the ten best tips for each phase. Don’t forget to check out our “Parenting Tips for Toddlers ” article if you missed it. Here’s to making the three T’s more enjoyable for you and your child.
|Staying connected. Family dinners will always be your best bet for keeping in touch with your tween. But if you can’t find the time during the week, make sure to schedule time whether it’s breakfast with Dad on the weekends or going to the salon with Mom.
|Re-thinking discipline. By now your child will be more prone to argue with consequences. By maintaining a strong bond with them, the disappointment for breaking your rules can be punishment enough.
|Fostering independence. Preteens don’t want to be micromanaged. Work with them to set limits you both agree on. That way, the consequences will be clear if they are overstepped.
|Hormones and respect. As children’s bodies change, there will be times when their hormones can get the best of them. As a parent, it’s important to understand that they cannot control all of their actions, and to get respect you must give it first. Show your tween you respect them and work with them to solve disagreements, and they will respect you all the more.
|Listening. The best way to teach is to listen to your tween. Get them talking by asking questions and maybe sharing some stories from when you were growing up. Your child will learn your values through communicating rather than a lecture.
|Popular culture. Preteens can be overexposed to sex, drugs and alcohol early on from anything from the internet to older kids at school. This is where firm boundaries need to be set regarding what is age appropriate for them. They still need your guidance through childhood.
|Encouraging passions. The preteen years will be filled with fads as they experiment with fashion, music etc. Keep an open mind as long as they are within your limits, and make sure to really encourage their deep passions.
|Time and self-management. Work with your child to establish good time management with schoolwork. The earlier the good habits form, the easier school will be for both of you in the long run. Also keep an eye on diet and exercise. Nothing crazy at this age, just promote healthy habits and playing outside.
|Girls. Preteen girls have a lot coming at them from society like cultural expectations of attractiveness, how the media portrays women and sex. It is important to keep your daughter’s self esteem high as she grows into her body and becomes more aware of society’s inconsistent messages. For father’s especially, it is important to reaffirm how beautiful and smart your daughter is growing up to be.
|Boys. Preteen boys will need to learn how to embrace ‘manliness’ while still being open to tenderness and vulnerability. By trying to act cool, boys will push other emotions down, this is where dads or role models can step in and reassure them that these are not girly emotions, but normal for young men. Also respect for women is important at this age as they begin to notice the opposite sex. Moms and dads can teach by showing them a healthy relationship and how to be a gentlemen.