Parenting a preteen
A guest post by Renée Meier
“You are in for a rude shock,” said the psychologist with an odd smirk on her face.
We were discussing my tweenager 10-year-old son.
“When you have had a well behaved, pleasant child in the younger years, the pre-teen period can be a rough adjustment.”
She was right.
As they enter the early stages of puberty, sometime between 8 and 12 for girls and 9 and 14 for boys, hormones start pumping and your sweet child can become an attitude packed stranger.
This certainly has been my experience. Silly and giggling one minute, moody and boundary pushing the next, my previously mild natured boy has turned into a somewhat unpredictable force of nature.
Not yet a teenager, no longer a little kid
You do have to feel sorry for them at this age though. It is a tough stage and there is so much going on. Not yet a teenager, no longer a little kid, your preteen will be looking for their place in the world.
Their body may vary in height, shape and weight from their peers as each child develops at a different rate. Body image can become an issue at this crucial time, as can self esteem and peer pressure.
Talking to your child about the physical and emotional changes they can expect can help them feel supported and understood, allowing them to cope better.
After a particularly out of character meltdown, my son came to me full of remorse. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me, mum.” Needless to say, I capitalised on this opportunity to talk about what was going on for him and what was still to come.
I believe the word “unfair” was bandied about. Justifiably so.
They are starting to come into their own
The good news for your preteen is that they are starting to come into their own in other aspects of development. They are mastering motor control and muscles are becoming stronger, enabling smoother and faster movement. It’s a great time for getting involved in sports and other physical endeavours.
As your child develops, body hair and odour may start to become an issue so open discussions about personal hygiene are a must.
The biggest muscle that’s developing is of course, their brain. Their critical thinking and problem solving skills are constantly improving and they will start to develop (and voice) opinions different from their parents. That’s not to say they will not still need your reassurance and support on most areas of their lives.
By this age, your child should have started to develop some solid friendships. As they become more independent from their parents, peer approval becomes an even bigger deal so talk to them about positive and negative influences and the importance of staying true to themselves. Self-esteem is a big protective factor against peer pressure so it’s a great idea to help your child develop their confidence.
Savour the moments
Most importantly as a parent, savour the last remnants of your child’s younger years. Lots of family time, cuddles and establishing lines of communication will help your child and YOU face the challenges the teenage years will bring.
After all, this is just the beginning!
Renée is a freelance writer, perpetual student and aspiring novelist. In her spare time she’s the sole parent to 3 rambunctious little people. She survives predominantly on coffee and squishy hugs.
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