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Kimberly In The Media

Staying Connected To Your Tween

The-best-top-desktop-purple-wallpapers-purple-wallpaper-purple-background-hd-28If you’re the parent of a tween, you may look at parents of younger kids, out for a walk at the mall or on their way to school, and see the little ones willingly reach for Mom or Dad’s hand…and cry a little on the inside.  You may find yourself butting heads with your 10 year old and think, what happened to the little guy who was easily distracted by a hug and a game of Uno?  Gone are the days when you begged the kids to go play in the other room because you needed some peace and quiet!  Now you’re the one being shooed out of the room.  Sigh.  We know they’re growing up, but did it have to happen so soon??  We typically expect teens to be much more connected to and interested in their friends than in their parents.  But we need to not give up on them, because friends are not a good replacement for parents.  We need to stay connected, even if that connection evolves, so that we can continue parenting and leading our kids.  And that evolution starts well before they actually hit the teen years.

Step one: spend some good time together.  Between homework and racing kids to activities, it can be easy to become disconnected.  Start by making sure that not every interaction you have with them is a negative one!  If the only time you really seem to have their attention is when you’re disciplining them, you’ve got a problem on your hands.  A few kind words in the morning, leaving little love notes for each other, a little chat over tea in the evening, interesting discussions at the dinner table, and turning off the TV and the electronics during all those windows take little time but can pay back big dividends in a relationship.  It doesn’t have to be anything big, but create some good times together. Building in regular time with you and/or as a family – weekly game nights, perhaps lessons in a sport you can do as together – helps to give you all something in common.

Spend time getting to know your kids’ friends.  If you don’t know who your tween’s best friend is, make a point of learning, pronto.  Including friends in some of your fun family outings is generally painless and informative (and may make your tween more interested in participating!).  And as far as that goes, find out more of your tween’s other “favourites”.  Nothing makes a kid sigh in exasperation louder than having his parent go on about his favourite food/tv show/singer/movie, when the kid has already moved on and has a new favourite.  Don’t get hung up on who you think your child is; you might be clinging to an idea that’s outdated, which might lead him to feel that you really don’t get him at all.  Be curious about your kids and their evolving ideas and tastes.  It’s these little things that help kids to feel as though you’re really on their side, and that you’re okay with the independence they’re developing.

Your child is turning into an adult, so don’t be afraid to change the way you relate to him or her.  Share more of yourself; talk about your day, what your “favourites” are, what you’d really like to do over the next year.  I’m not saying you should talk to her like you would your best friend, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the insight and personality that’s developing in your not-so-little one.  And the relationship you cultivate now will keep you closer and more connected in a few years when she’s just that much older.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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About Andrea Ramsay Speers

Andrea Ramsay Speers, M.A. is a Psychotherapist practicing in Oakville. Her entire practice is built around one purpose: helping people enjoy their families more, whether that means coaching parents in learning new parenting tools, increasing connection and harmony between couples, improving relationships with teenagers, or helping individuals overcome their feelings of depression, stress, or anxiety and start enjoying their lives again. She can be found online at www.OakvilleFamilyInstitute.com.


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