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Friday
Mar292013

Did I Really Just Say That

Image courtesy of photostock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We all know the golden rule “practice what you preach.” When it comes to our kids it is probably the most important one to follow. Kids are like sponges, they learn by absorbing the things they see and hear around them. As parents we are the greatest contributors to what they take in. Yes, what we say and do in their presence really does matter.

 

There is of course the small fact that we are human and as such sometimes make mistakes. We do the wrong thing and say the wrong thing.  When we say the wrong thing around our children age and individual development has much to do with how they will take it. Older kids, teens, are able to better process and understand that sometimes we just mess up. Younger kids tend to take things more literal. Their concrete perspectives tend to accept what we say on face value. When we make such a misstep with our tweens around however, we can never really be sure how they will perceive what we have said. In fact at different times they may interpret the same verbalizations differently.

Regardless of how your kids interpret what you have said there is always room for recovery. No, once it is out there you can’t turn back time and take it back. You can however, retract what you have said, and in reality this is the best way to deal with such a situations. Your tween probably perceives you as his superhero. He looks to you for guidance and direction.

While your natural inclination may be to just pretend you didn’t say it, that just simply won’t suffice. You know what you said, he heard it, so it is important to deal with it. Remember, how you recover from what should have been a ‘bleep’ also teaches your tween a lesson.

How you handle the situation will depend on what you said and how. If your verbal infraction was an inappropriate word or phrase that slipped out in the moment, a simple retraction will suffice. ”Oops, I shouldn’t have said that, sorry.” If you said something directly to your tween that you wish you could take back, a sincere apology is important. Tween self-esteem is vulnerable as it is, so it is important that you quickly and carefully take back what you said or at least how you said it.

An apology can go a long way with you tween. You teach her that even superheroes make mistakes.

The take away message here is simple, be mindful of your p’s and q’s. If you blurt something out you wish you could take back talk to your tween, apologize. If sometime in the future you hear him say something similar re-direct him and remind him that what he has said is not okay. It’s not what you say it’s how you handle it that will matter the most in the end.

Tuesday
Mar052013

On Parenting a Tween

Image courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To say that parenting a tween is hard work is probably an understatement. I would in fact venture to say it is at times seemingly impossible. Let’s be clear that although it is indeed a challenging task, it is one full of joy, excitement and unpredictability. One minute she seems mature beyond her years, in a flash however, she seems so young and naïve. He can seem so convincing and confident one moment, and so vulnerable and lost the next.

 

There’s a good reason this in between stage only lasts a few years. I am not sure many could handle the uncertainty, confusion and often chaos that accompanies parenting kids at this stage for too long.

The tween years are all about growing up and moving forward. Physically tweens are faced with bodies that are growing and developing quickly. It truly is a mind/body experience. Emotionally tweens are awakened to new thoughts and feelings about themselves and those around them. They are sensitive and egocentric, self-focused and unsure. One moment they can be critical and even cruel while the next they are concerned and caring. They worry about what they say, how they look, what they know and most importantly what others think about them. They negotiate their lives with simple goals such as how to avoid shame and embarrassment.

Tweens are known to be silly and sensitive. The child in them can laugh at the most mundane things while the teen in them scoffs at you with an attitude. No, you are not funny, you are embarrassing!

Yup, it can be tough to be the parent of a tween but it can also be wonderful and even weird. At moments when you least expect it the child in her reaches out for a reassuring hug or a pat on the back. What you say and think about him still matters greatly even at a time when he may seem like he is pulling away from you and moving toward his peers.

Parenting a tween may not always be easy but it is rewarding and fun. Your sweet and sour child is transforming in front of your eyes. Before you know it, he will be begging for the car keys, for now, enjoy the ride.

Sunday
Feb102013

Crushes & Candy: Tweens & Valentine's Day

www.freedigitalphotos.netAs our children grow into tweens it is hard to know where we should draw the line between treating them too much like children and expecting what we would our teens. Holidays such as Valentine’s Day provide an opportunity for us to demonstrate our love and affection. Few tweens I know would turn away a card filled with heartwarming sentiments and/or a box of candy or a bouquet of flowers.

Valentine’s Day is one of those rare occasions when it is hard to know what your tween will expect. For some tweens V-Day is about celebrating friendships and talking about crushes. Other tweens may experience V-Day as an opportunity to feel giddy or even crushed when a crush doesn’t acknowledge let alone return a heart felt sentiment. In some schools there are opportunities to send notes, candy or even flowers on V-Day as a fundraiser. The competition can become fierce as friends challenge each other to receive the most Valentines. Of course the true winners on Valentine’s Day are the few tweens who receive validation via Valentine from a romantic interest.

It is hard to believe our kids are growing up. Wasn’t it yesterday that Valentine’s Day was all about the love they received from us? They are way too young to think about romance aren’t they?

Tweenhood marks the beginning of many phases for our children. As they take their first steps in search of identity, they begin to think about who they are, who they want to be and who they will be. They begin to look outside of their immediate circles of family and friends and think about the world at large.

It is during the tween years that kids transition and mature. Perhaps what is most amazing and at times daunting is that each child seems to grow and change at their own pace, the ‘norm’ is not only vague but varies from tween to tween. While one tween maybe thinking about a classroom crush, another is ten steps behind focused on pleasing friends and parents. 

It is indeed holidays such as Valentine’s Day that prove to highlight the differences among our tweens. As parents our job is to provide acceptance and support. Thankfully it is during the tween years that our kids continues to turn to directly to us to lead the way. Treasure these years. Before you know it yours will be a full fledged teen focused on moving forward and breaking away.

 

 

Monday
Jan142013

Doing The Hustle

www.digitalphotos.net Salvatore VuonoWe make it to the game with time to spare. Big sigh of relief given we woke up so late. Drive home from the game, drop my tween off, head to the grocery store. Half way there she texts me. I am annoyed, she knows I don’t read texts while I am driving. I pull into the parking lot and read the text. She is already working on her plans for the day. I call her back and we discuss the details. I promise I will rush so I can drive her to her friend’s house. My husband will be with our other tween so this may mean I actually will have a few hours to myself. Now, I have an incentive to rush!

As I am walking out of the grocery store she sends me an impatient “Where are you?” I let her know I am on the way. I get home, my husband is on the way out. I employ my daughter to help unpack the groceries. Usually she is not so eager but since I can’t take her to her friend’s house until they are put away she is more than willing.

We finally leave the house. Within thirty minutes I am home, ah but what to do with myself for the next three hours? The dogs stare at me longingly. I hadn’t realize it was that time. I walk each one. All tolled it takes about thirty of my precious 180 minutes. I walk into my room and there it is, a pile of laundry a mile high just waiting to be folded. I hadn’t realized my husband had done a few loads. The least I should do is get it folded and put away. Not too bad, I can watch HGTV while I fold. Just as I am starting this task, my cell phone rings. I recognize the number and pick it up. It is a work related call. For the next forty minutes I fold and discuss. So much for HGTV!

I finally finish folding the laundry. Now what should I do next? I quickly glance at the clock to see how much time I have got. To my dismay I realize I have to leave to get my tween in ten minutes. Just enough time to make a cup of coffee and scan the paper. As I go to sit down the phone rings. I promise myself I will not pick it up. I glance at the caller ID and realize it is my husband. I pick it up. I am grateful I do because he wants to pick up dinner and would like to know my order. One less thing I will have to do on the way home from picking up my daughter.

By the time we hang up it is time to go. I grab my purse and rush out the door. Half way to pick her up I see a text come in from her. I pull over to read it. She has been invited to stay for dinner. I text back telling her no. My phone rings within seconds. She begs and pleads. It is a Sunday night however, and she knows I won’t bend the rules. She accepts my response in a huff. “This should be a fun ride home,” I think to myself. Luckily by the time she gets in the car she has accepted the situation and simply asks what’s for dinner.

We get home, eat dinner, encourage showers, and getting organized for school. Before I have a moment to take a breath I am exhausted and ready to go to bed. The dance has ended for today, until tomorrow….

Friday
Jan112013

Parenting 2013: The Impact of 2012

http://www.momtv.com/video/Let%2526%2523039%253Bs-Talk-Tween-and-Teen%253A-Parenting-2013%253B-The-Impact-of-2012/7f11a9c1d8a40da740dc6ae49ffad6d1