We have reached tween town in this house! It’s a terrifying and confusing place filled with roller coaster emotions and random changes I am so not ready for. I have been the mom of a strong willed child since the day my girl was more but I had no idea what was coming. I am now parenting a strong willed tween. I have been trying to learn how to handle this best and what things I can do. There are days when I wish I had noise-canceling headphones. I am going to share some of the things I have learned in hopes that it will help you.
Parenting a Strong Willed Tween
I want to say that some of the tips I give may not work for your house or for your child. These are simply suggestions based on what is working for us now. I may come in next week or next month and tweak some of these. I don’t know. This is such a new roller coaster for us.
“You control your choices but I control your consequences.”
My dear friend Cathi taught me the little golden piece of wisdom. For a season I would tell my daughter that she wasn’t in control. My friend said to give her back control of her choices. This reminder goes with that control though. There is an understanding in our house now that my daughter has control over whether she makes the right choice or not.
However, I have control over what consequences are tied to those choices. This gives her back her freedom but it gives me the ability to establish clear boundaries. Tweens need to understand that choices have consequences that they may not anticipate. While it can be tempting to take away their choice, it’s more important to teach them to weigh the consequences before making a choice.
Choose areas of independence.
At this age, independence seems to be so important. I have started giving my daughter certain areas of her world where she is completely independent of my help. This has prepared her for her future while giving her some control over her life. She makes breakfast, has a chore that is hers, and has certain privileges her younger brother doesn’t.
Give your children areas where they have control. If their school allows colorful hair, maybe fighting over hair dye isn’t the battle worth fighting. Instead, focus on the issues of integrity and let them deal with lesser issues on their own.
Doors can come off the hinges.
While this is something we have actually done, it makes a valid point. Your strong-willed tween does not run your home. It is completely ok to do something a bit more extreme to communicate the fact that you are the head of the house and there are rules to be followed. Keep it safe and healthy but don’t be afraid to get your child’s attention.
If you are going to remove doors, make sure there is a way to have space to themself that will let them work through things in private. This might mean a curtain where the door was or a bathroom with doors that close for privacy when changing.
If you say that you are going to take a door off the hinges, take away privileges, or do some other consequence that needs to happen. This means two things. You will have to mean what you say and you will have to be consistent. When you say you will do something and you don’t your tween is able to find areas where they can take advantage and push the limits.
My daughter’s emotions are a constant change. I feel like I can’t keep up half the time. However, I have found by just being available to hear what is going on in her world, I am able to help her move through it. It helps to teach your tween how to identify these feelings they are dealing with. It’s very overwhelming and they will need you to be there and be ready to equip them to handle these crazy emotions.
Encourage the Good!
Your tween is trying to figure out who they are in the world. While you have to correct the bad, make sure to honor the good. Point out the things that your tween does well. Did your tween do their chore without a complaint? Is their room clean? Were they encouraging? Point these things out and celebrate them. Compliments can go a long way with an insecure tween.
Have a cool down plan.
There will be days when your tween will push you to the brink of insanity. As they test the limits there will be days you just want to snap. Have a plan to cool down before dealing with these situations to avoid losing your cool. It can be so hard when your baby is now a tween who is pushing every limit.
You can do this. It’s ok if you need to hide in the bathroom for five minutes to collect yourself. I am convinced there are many kids who are better off because their moms locked themselves in the bathroom for five minutes to calm down.
It’s not your fault.
Your tween is going to make mistakes, act out, and do things that make you question your sanity. While these are difficult, they are not necessarily your fault. Some of it may be because you were too lax or because you didn’t set clear boundaries.
Guess what. Some of it isn’t. Some of it is because they are their own person with their own ability to choose right and wrong. Release the mom guilt and parent the tween you have instead of the one you wish you had.
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