It can get harder to stay connected to you child as they start getting older. As the parent it is always your main job to give you child love, guidance and support. When your child comes into the tween years, they want more independence, more trust and less involvement from their parents. If you take anything from this please let it be this… Don’t take this change that they are going through personally, it is part of growing up and pretty much all children go through this, you just need to loosen the strings a bit.
My mum says ‘ Practise what you preach’ Now I’m not very good at doing this but this quote has stuck with me for years. Children pick up a lot of their behaviour from the things they see so you can nag and moan your tween about a certain behaviours you don’t want them doing but if you are unconsciously doing that behaviour yourself they are never going to listen to you.
There are a few things you can personally change to help your tween connect with you.
Don’t over react. There will come a time when either you hear or see something that you do not agree with or something that makes you angry. There are two ways of dealing with it. Getting angry and shouting or dealing with the situation and addressing what you dislike at a later time. You need to respond to situations not immediately react to them.
Watch your tone of voice. The way you talk to your tween can change the mood of a whole conversation. Using a lighter tone can help keep things on a neutral base line and avoid any arguments.
Give them some space. When they tell you to leave them alone, as long as there is no real problem, leave them alone. They don’t want to spend all their time with you any more and that is a normal part of growing up.
Showing affection. Some tweens still like the big show of affection as they have not reach the full on teen stage yet but some may not, there are little ways to show affection without going overboard. A little kiss on their head as they pass you or touch of their shoulders can brighten up their day.
Verbal reassurance. Sometimes all they need are a few words of reassurance to know that you care. Tell them how proud of them you are, tell them how much you love them just for being them.
Sometimes by making more of an effort when doing day-to-day tasks you can make a huge difference.
Ask your tween to help you make dinner. This is a great bonding time and as you will both be concentraiting on cooking they may open up a bit more.
Eating dinner as a family. I know that this can be quite hard to do 7 days a week but make a point of having dinner and catching up at least 2-3 times a week.
Spending time together. Try spending one – one time together. For example walking the dog without other siblings or when your running out to the shop just take your tween and leave other siblings with your partner.
Bedtime. Tweens maybe getting to old to be tucked in at night but this is a great opportunity to talk to them about how their day has been.
A very big and easy way to connect with your tween is to learn how to LISTEN and I mean really listen. Life gets busy and everyone seems to be moving at a million miles an hour however you will gain so much more trust from your tween if you actually stopped what you are doing and properly listen to them, If it’s not possible to stop where you are right at that point, tell your child that you want to give them 100% of your attention but at that moment its a bit difficult and can you have a chat after you are finished. Once you are listening try not to jump in with a solution to their problems, let them talk and let them get it all out, sometimes they don’t want a soloution, they just want to talk about a problem and share with someone else.
It would be great to hear any tips you have to help connect with your tween, it is always good to keep learning. I am no way trying to make out that I am top-notch mum all the time and i don’t use these tips all the time, I am only human.