Parenting Tips for Dealing with Preteens

Each age is unique in its developmental milestones, challenges and accomplishments. As children move into their preteen years, there are many new behaviors that can add stress and disharmony to the home. Media and peer pressure have powerful affects on your child during these formative years. These tips can help parents deal with common issues faced by today’s preteen.

Understand the biology of adolescence

As preteens mature, their bodies go through drastic changes that can compound other stresses. By understanding the biology of adolescence, you will be better prepared to help them through this potentially difficult time. Hormones wreck havoc on their skin and emotions, and even their judgement can suffer as new areas of the brain become active.

Reevaluate family rules

What was an appropriate rule for your child of 8 is likely to bring on a storm of heated discussions with your preteen. Sit down with your preteen and tell them that, as a result of getting older, it is up to them to renegotiate rules they disagree with. Teach them how to do so in a way that is civilized and to everyone’s advantage. These negotiation skills will serve them well throughout adulthood and help maintain a happy household.

Be gentle & firm

Preteens often find themselves arguing for argument’s sake. It is a natural part of growing up, to want to separate oneself from childhood and parents. As heart-wrenching as this may be for parents, it is important to remain both firm and gentle when dealing with your preteen. Some rules simply cannot be broken, while others can be handled with a certain measure of flexibility. Let your preteen know that you are on their side and that they must adhere to basic family rules of courtesy and decorum.

Address the big issues together

Sex, drugs, and rock & roll are the call signs of adolescence. Parents can help their preteen explore the possibilities while reducing the risks by facing the big issues together. Parents can make use of helpful books, such as It’s Perfectly Normal, to help the preteen better understand themselves and what they are going through. If your preteen insists that everyone has a pair of designer sneakers, you can provide them with information about how they can earn the money for those items. Financial independence is an important, often overlooked skill that has a profound effect on success in adulthood.

Make “we” time

Many preteens and teens would rather hide under a rock than be seen in public with their parents. As painful as this may be to many parents, there are still ways to create activities that reaffirm the bond shared by parents and preteens. These activities can be as simple as a weekly trip to the drive-in movies, a family game night, attending church together or any other family activity that allows everyone to relax, be themselves, and get reminded that they are loved and respected members of the family.

Moving away from childhood can be frightening for preteens as they flounder through media messages, peer pressure and a changing body, as they try to discover who they are and where they stand relative to the rest of the world. Parents can help their preteens by understanding the biology of adolescence, reevaluating family rules, and staying calm in the face of emotional outbursts. Creating fun family activities and discussing the bigger issue being faced by preteens as a cohesive family will provide your preteen with the self control and confidence they need to explore this new aspect of life with knowledge, support and love.