Dealing with Tweens | Open Communications and Why it Matters
Tween is described by the Cambridge English Dictionary as a child between the ages of 8 and 12.
I'm a mother of a tween, and fun fact: They are TWINS.
Meet Daniel and Daphnie.
My firstborn is now 12 years old and in 7th grade. almost teenagers, but not yet. I think, as a mom, this is the stage where I get emotional. You see your first babies turning into teenagers.
We both learn as we go; it's both our first time, which is why feelings can be overwhelming.
You deal with the early puberty stage, the mood swings, and occasional tantrums on the kids' end.
On my part, it's mostly the fear. the fear that they might do something they will regret later on; the fear that they might get into the wrong group of friends; the fear of uncertainty. I had to deal with myself first before I was able to figure out how to deal with the tweens.
What did I do? I spend my time reading parenting books and articles to get a grasp on how to be an effective parent to a soon-to-be teenager. That's where I learned about open communications.
What is "Open Communication"?
Open communication is when both parties can freely express their ideas, feelings, and thoughts to one another.
Back then, for every bad behavior I saw on my end, I will start scolding them and just keep on talking like a machine gun. I was a bit of a nag, but after open communication, I have learned that every action has a reason behind it. We need not only to directly look at the problem but also see what might have caused it.
Kids feeling lazy and not doing chores assigned to them? Ask them what happened. There might be a trigger as to why they are behaving that way. Maybe a problem with their friends? or at school?
I have slowly learned to listen more and to talk less. I have encouraged my kids to speak up openly to me about their feelings. It starts with you asking them questions. It can be as simple as "How is your day going?" or "Anything good that happened today at school?"
Just encourage them to speak up, and once they do, be attentive to what they are sharing with you. This will make them feel secure and valued, and little did you know they will start telling you about their day even before you ask.
Listening plays an important role in open communication. It makes the kids feel that we are interested in everything they want to talk about. It gives them a feeling of security knowing that they will always have you there to listen.
When my kids started opening up about their daily lives and some struggles both with friends and school, I also shared my personal experience related to the matter. This way, they would know that I have also gone through what they are going through now. I share advice and opinions on how they should approach the situation, but as much as possible, I wanted to just be a guide for them and allow them to come up with their own answers.
I also take them on individual dates every now and then; we just go out and grab their favorite food and just talk about anything under the sun.
Patience is the key.
We need to be patient as parents; not all kids open up easily, especially if they didn't grow up in an environment that encouraged them to do so. We need to keep trying.
They will eventually see that they are respected, heard, and understood by their parents.
I think my efforts at open communication are working very well for all of us. Even if I'm far away from them, they keep me posted on their daily lives and even their crushes. We talk about their crush, and I always remind them that it's okay and normal but that they should prioritize their studies first.
When they started to talk to me about their crush, that's when I know they are now really confident to confide in me and that made me very happy.
I think what I want to happen in the future is to be the person they can freely reach out to when they have a breakdown. I never had that growing up; I was afraid to talk about or share my feelings with my mom because I thought she would just scold me. I was scared of her, which is why when I started to have emotional breakdowns growing up, I tended to keep everything to myself, which was very unhealthy. I had no one to talk to, so I just bottled everything up until it all burst out.
So if you are also dealing with tweens, go out and have a date with them. Ask questions and listen attentively. Be easy on them; they are not acting up, and they are also confused by what is happening to them both physically and emotionally. This is the best time to be there for them.
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