Tween Parents, do you feel like an alien has taken up residence? - Leanne Wakeling

 

I was speaking with a biz buddy today and she brought up how her 11yo has gone from this sweet kind cuddly kid to this grumpy withdrawn rude kid.  Mum’s trying to be patient, after all hormones.

It’s so much more than that. 

Our kids are really complex.  Well dah, human. 

There are layers that make them up, their physiological development is only one layer.  Sure, in the tween years the hormones have an effect.  Such as is one reason they have difficulty with sleeping at night-time. 

So, if you are feeling frustrated by this kid who doesn’t sleep at night or settle easily.  Consider how frustrating it is for them.  They actually don’t want to displease you, and their own body is not playing well with the expectations.

Not suggesting that you don’t have boundaries, it’s appreciating that how those boundaries are met can’t be forced.  What I mean by that is, if they could go to sleep, chances are they would.  Therefore, what things can you two agree on as a way of winding down?

Collaborative Problem Solving.

This is where collaborative conversations are really helpful.  Because it’s super easy to get caught in the “I know better than you” on what you need game, which only ends up in conflict.  Instead, validate them.  Eg Seems like sleep is eluding you right now.  It’s frustrating when we can’t go to sleep.  The problem is, a tween body needs rest, so I am wondering what could you do instead?

Healthy Boundaries

Letting them feel in charge of their options, and with healthy boundaries, principles/standards rather than rules

For instance, science tells us that back lite devices are not helpful for gaining a restful sleep.  Therefore, in the solution options that are inside the boundaries are not back lite options such as books, audio books, radio, recordings, Spotify, iTunes and so on. 

Sure, there might be initial push back, and that’s their right to feel like we are restricting them.  That doesn’t mean the aim is wrong.  In those moments we are providing them wise counsel.  The key is in the knowing and trusting our own choice, being firm and fair.

They may appreciate it one day, though perhaps not today. 

This is the type of thing that is most effectively raised either at a family meeting, OR in a one to one, not at bedtime.  

You don’t want to be having this discussion when it’s going to potentially be a direct trigger.

The Blog 12 Steps to a Family that Thrives walks through the family meeting process.

Other Layers.

Social Intelligencewhat their friends think. 
This is a biggie in the tween years because they are transitioning from dependence on their primary carers for meeting their needs, to their peers having so much more influence.

It’s appreciating that as they go through this phase, we are meant to be less important to them.  It’s not they don’t still love us, however their development pivots their focus as a necessary part of maturing towards adulthood.

Behaviour Energy/Style – how they respond to their world.  There are four main styles, with a total of 8 archetypes of how they interact with their world. 

Information about the four styles can be found here.

When we can master understanding our child’s style, what motivates them, how they interpret their world.  Communication becomes easier, tension and conflict reduces and consequently anxiety becomes easier to manage as more brain processing space becomes available.

Neurological Development – this is probably under what tends to cause the most concern in parents. 
Chances are your child was seeming to be coming together, making better decisions, which comes with the 8-10 brain development and arrival of their pre-frontal cortex that enables logic and reasoning.


Then pruning happens.  Which is an internal energy sapper.  It’s dissolving all the under and un-utilised neural pathways in preparation for the strengthening of the used ones during adolescence and into adulthood (ages 24-28).

The problem with pruning is, it uses internal processing power to do the work, which means that their ability to manage themselves is reduced, because they are running on low watts.  It’s a sort of brown out in their system.

Chances are it causes anxiety for them, after all they’ve just begun to feel like they’re getting somewhat masterful at this making good decisions thing, and then this happens.

It goes back to being compassionate and seeking best intentions first.  If they are appearing rude, instead of getting all defensive and judgey, consider that they are doing the best they know how AND are capable of. 

In those moments, we have the opportunity to create connection and build our trust bank credits.  Meaning we accept them as they are, so that they can feel safe enough for us to be able to discuss the behaviour with them.  They will do much better in themselves, when they understand this is a transitioning phenomenon, rather than an indication that they are not good enough.  It’s another separating the deed and the doer.  Empowering them to take a bit more time, so that their reduce capacity has time to respond, rather than react.

Support them with other strategies as well.  What I mean by that, some agreed shorthand communication words or signals that communicate what they mean, without triggering offence.  Or we can adult and not take things personally, in the first place

You are not alone.

 If you are finding your tween a bit hard to take, you are not alone.  It’s tough for both sides of the transition.  

Your baby is growing up and this is a necessary part of their development.  We can be bigger and stronger, wiser and kinder.  Supporting them through what can be a confusing time on their side, as they navigate through their changing body and mind.

If you are in the trenches with a tween right now, and feeling frustrated, book a clarity session and lets figure this out together.

Together we ARE Stronger.

Click below and book in a discovery session 

Author – Leanne G Wakeling –
Relationship and Communication Coach, Parenting Mentor, Behaviour and Thinking Styles Profiler.