Are you having a hard time talking to your tween? An expert answers all your questions on how to stay connected to your kids. Modernmom got the chance to talk to parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman, who helps parents, educators and young people navigate the social challenges of young adulthood. She had some incredibly insightful advice for parents on how to stay connected with their tweens. By the way, Rosalind is a New York Times Best Seller and her book, “Queen Bees and Wannabes” was the basis for the movie “Mean Girls”– which we’re pretty sure your tweens have watched.
Is Your Tween Having a Hard Time?
These days, it’s incredibly difficult being a tween, and kids at that age are surrounded by many potential damaging habits — whether your kid is experiencing an actual issue or not, all kids are confronted with it and as parents, we need to make sure issues are addressed and we stay connected with our kids. Rosalind gives parents some great insights on how to stay best connected with your tween:
We Are Important
If your tween doesn’t want to talk to you, and isn’t the most communicative, or if you’re trying to bring up something difficult tell them this is your job, that you are their mom and that we are important. Rosalind says that our kids NEED to hear from us, and we matter very much in our child’s life. She also mentioned, that in a study conducted, 7 out of 10 tweens said they felt better about themselves after talking with their parents. Wow.
As parents, we forget to REALLY listen — REALLY, just listen. We go into solution mode, and we start telling them what they need to do. Sometimes kids just want to vent, they just want to talk, and the most important thing we can do is listen to them. If we cut them off and put our two cents in, they may not come to us the next time: “listening is important to developing a report with your kids,” says Rosalind.
Try and find small opportunities to talk to your kids. When you hear about someone having a sweating or odor problem, bring it up– it doesn’t have to be happening to them. If you see something on a television show or movie, ask them “have you seen this or heard about it?” Sometimes, it’s easier to bring up the issues if it’s not happening directly to them, but they still need you to bring it up. You can even say “I’m your mom, my job is to talk to you and to give you information so you can come to me.”
Tween Boys vs Girls
So many times people have the misconception that boys are “easier” than girls. Not necessarily true, says Rosalind. As the mother of two boys herself, she says boys often feel they can’t complain or talk and end up suffering in silence. They don’t like to ask for help and we mistake it for them not having any problems: “Girls talk all the time. Boys will say they are fine, always. I tell my boys they have a right to be upset and speak out about things.” Empower them!
First of all, tweens need a break from the constant chatter, so taking cell phones out of their rooms doesn’t only help you it helps them, whether they like it or not. All the things we worry about are coming through their phones — we’re so worried about the movies they are watching, we fail to realize they can just download them to their phones and watch them there. Pull their phones out of their rooms — “They need PEACE!”
We don’t need to be focused on Facebook being so evil — kids can abuse just about any site, from Lego.com to Facebook. There are no differences between virtual and reality, says Rosalind. Basically, if they are going to abuse the internet, they will. Don’t let your kids have computers in their rooms, period! As parents, you have to give structure and say “parents matter — we can help you with this.” Think of all the stuff that’s out there including online bullying – take the computer out of their rooms and put it somewhere public.
More with Rosalind
Want more Rosalind? Visit the site she’s involved with, dontfretthesweat.com.
Stay in touch with your children — there’s something to the idea of not letting them out of your sight…