Tween parenting is a something else, isn’t it?
I knew that raising teenagers would be different than raising little kids, but that is exactly what tween parenting is – a transition. It is a transition for us parents, but it is a bigger transition for the kids.
As parents, we have been through this transition ourselves when we were tweens. We already know what is on the other side. For our tween kids, they are just starting to experience that their world is shifting little kids to becoming a young adult.
When we are parenting tweens, we can see how some days they want to be little. They will still crawl in our laps, hold our hands, and ask us to hang out with them. Then, there are other days, they want to do real things that adults do – like cook a meal from scratch, be trusted to babysit, call their friends, or just have some alone time.
The Constant in Tween Parenting is….
During this time of transition, the constant in tween parenting is the change itself. If we are parents struggle with that change, imagine how much our tweens are struggling.
The change is sometimes hard for tweens to understand. They start to notice their bodies changing which often makes them self-conscience. They are losing interest in hobbies or play that used to delight them.
We also start to expect more out of our tweens. They can handle more responsibility, more focus, more awareness of what is around them. Naturally, we start to raise our expectations of their capabilities.
Now, we know we can’t stop is the change happening, and we wouldn’t want to. It is all part of the process.
What can be a more powerful than change?
However, with all of these changes in our tween, they need someone to be the constant in their lives. Someone they know has their best interest at heart. Someone who loves them enough to be present and invest what it takes to support them.
Who is that someone? That someone is you!
- Validate their feelings.
No matter what your tween is feeling, it is essential that they feel heard. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to understand, and you certainly don’t have to like how they are feeling.
However, you can be the constant in their lives to say, “I hear you. How you feel is important to me.”
Now, what if they are having a meltdown and yelling down the hallway in frustration? You can still say, “I hear you. I know you are upset. I love you enough to not argue with you. We can talk about this when you have had time to calm down.”
Sometimes, kids need time to process how they feel because they don’t understand it themselves. By validating that you hear them, you are reaching their heart. When you show you care – even if you don’t agree – your tweens defenses calm down so they can focus on dealing with their own emotions.
No matter what their perception is, it is their reality. By consistently validating their feelings, we prove that constant security they crave when so many things are changing.
- Show respect as if they were an adult.
The days may be long, but the years are short. Your tween will be a young adult very soon. We can role model for our tween how to respect each other’s feelings with our example.
It is so much easier to just say, “If you don’t clean your room, you can’t have any screens today.” Tweens hear the threat, and they comply to get the reward.
Yes, that is how real life works. Adults comply to go to work because we want the reward of a paycheck.
However, if you are respected by your boss, you will do the work with a better attitude. You and your co-workers are a lot more likely to be a team player if your boss treats you with respect.
Let’s say your boss is rude, demanding, and threatens to take away certain privileges you like (Casual wear Fridays, for example). How is your attitude then? Are you going to want to pitch in for the sake of the team?
Nope. Some of us (*totally guilty*) might even think of ways to rebel just try to demand some respect.
Our tweens will react the same way. As little kids, they were happy to comply because they needed our guidance so much. However, with tween parenting, it is vital that we show respect.
Showing respect to your tween creates harmony in your home. When tweens feel respected, they are less rebellious and want to pitch in for the team. This also role models how adults can show respect in marriages, friendships, and in their careers.
- Show your weaknesses.
Ok, I know this is a tough one, but hang with me for a moment. We, adults, are really good at hiding our flaws. We avoid situations where we struggle. Adult life can look pretty easy from the eyes of a tween.
When your tween starts to struggle, please validate them and let them know that you have struggles, too. Now, of course, I am not saying to dump your family’s dirty laundry on your tween! What I am saying is to let them know that you aren’t perfect. Empathize that you struggle sometimes as well and that you really do understand what they are feeling.
This is a great time for you to share stories of how you tried something scary, stood up to a bully, or made a mistake. Tell them how you overcame it. Maybe it still bothers you, and you have to pray for patience when it comes up again.
How about we put all of the Validate-Respect-Show Strategy together?
For example, let’s say our tween has hurt feelings over a friend’s rude behavior.
We can listen. Just let them talk. Keep validating that you hear how they are feeling. That you understand they are upset.
Next, show them respect. Let them know that you respect they have to choose how to deal with this. Offer to give them suggestions, but tell them you respect it is their choice of what to do next. You might even need to respect that they need some time to think about the options.
Then, show them your weakness. Tell them you have struggled with someone (maybe a friend) being unkind. Offer to share how you dealt with it.
Finally, invite them to pray with you. Part of showing my weakness is that I pray aloud for guidance, strength, and wisdom when I struggle. I want my tweens to observe that I turn to God to listen, to understand, and to guide me when I struggle.
Tween parenting is a time of change, but you can be the loving constant in their lives – very similar to how God is our constant in our lives as well. After all, he is the ultimate parenting role model, right?
What do you think of the Validate-Respect-Show strategy for tween parenting? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
This was Day 2 of 30 Days of the Tween Parenting Encouragement Blog Party!
What a fantastic reminder of how we can walk this line well as our kids grow! The application of the Validate – Respect – Show strategy is something I personally will work on with our tweens! How about you?
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