Every parent is warned about the terrible twos and wild toddler years, but parenting preteens is not for the faint of heart. This is a time of new budding emotions, puberty, radical change, and getting to know themselves. Preteens, between the ages of nine and twelve, are no longer the sweet and cuddly little children you once knew. Rather rapidly they may want little or nothing to do with you and your parenting style has to adapt tremendously.
Keeping Your Bond
During their preteen years, it should be no surprise if they become much more distant and are passionate about building their own life and independence. They may be living under your roof, but it’s around this time that they are trying to find who they really are––even if it means distancing themselves from you. However, it’s important to not get discouraged at this sudden distance because you can still keep your bond with your child.
While also allowing them to have strong friendships on their own and their independence, set aside time together. Make an effort to learn about their new interests and hobbies. Even though parenting during this time can be difficult, make time to have fun with them and keep your bond strong. A strong foundation of one-on-one time sets your parent-child relationship up for a lifetime.
New Discipline Techniques
When trying to find their independence, your child is more than likely to push boundaries. Putting them in a timeout or taking away their favourite toy is not going to have the same effect as before. It’s time to adapt your discipline techniques to their age and find new ones. To help your child develop into a teenager as well as their adult years, they need firm and loving boundaries. During this time, it is essential that your discipline strategies aren’t used to simply punish your child, but instead teach them to make better choices in the future.
Techniques such as a behaviour contract to outline how they can earn and keep extra privileges, taking away said privileges, rewarding good behaviour, and discussing rules and expectations for new situations are great ways to lay down ground rules while also giving them the independence they crave. Drawing up some family agreements in key areas, with the input of all the kids and parents is a powerful tool too – they are choosing the consequences for inappropriate behaviours.
Show Them Your Support
One of the greatest challenges preteens face while trying to find who they really are and gaining a new sense of independence is feeling alone. It’s important to support their growth as their parent and help them through the challenges of this age. All parents have gone through their own preteen years and can often remember how difficult it felt at times.