For most kids the first few weeks of school are fueled by an exciting energy. It is when the schoolwork begins to build slowly to a stable crescendo however that some tweens experience feelings of anxiety, annoyance, and yes, even anger. Summer suddenly feels like a lifetime ago. Although as a parent you may have tried to prepare for the moment when the attitude toward school switches, once you are in the thick of the battle, it is hard to remember how best to proceed. You may long for the days when your son’s biggest dilemma was whether to go to the pool or the beach with his friends.
Back to school battles are not of course always related to schoolwork. As a parent it can be painful to wake your child up at the crack of dawn to get ready for school. This is especially true if instead of greeting you with a sunshiny smile, she flashes you a smirk that clearly says, “leave me alone, I’m still sleeping.” The social pressures associated with middle school can also contribute to cranky attitudes.
The tween years are often synonymous with feeling awkward and out of place. Tweens tend to be super sensitive and sometimes overly considered with how others perceive them as well as their family members. This why tweens are so easily embarrassed by what their parents say and do.
How do you quell the angst in the air? How do you pre-empt daily battles and instead encourage problem solving?
Here are a few hints:
1.) Respond with calm. Although your tween may present as overwhelmed and irritability, your own reaction can really change the tone of a situation. With the emotion out of the way, you and your tween will have a better chance of talking through a situation successfully.
2.) Affirm your understanding. Few things are more validating than a parent who acknowledges a tween’s angst, or anxiety. Even if you don’t agree with your tween’s perspective saying you can see how she is feelings is sometimes enough to thwart a battle before it begins.
3.) May it a ‘can do’ conversation. Push your tween to problem solve dissatisfying situations by focusing on the things that can be changed. This will make his problem solving efforts far more satisfying and productive.
4.) Set up satisfying solutions. Take the time to talk through situations to find agreeable answers. If for example, your tween gets upset and/or irritable when you wake her up in the morning suggest that she set up a loud alarm clock across the room. While she may still get annoyed that she has to get up, you will no longer be the target of her attitude.
Back to school battles can be difficult to de-escalate. When you are armed with a commitment to communication you can talk through potential conflict and generate satisfying solutions.