Parenting a pre-teen: Tips to get you through the tricky years

Is your child reaching the tricky pre-teen years? Here’s how to parent them through this stage.

The parent-child relationship is always changing. It is often said that the parent-child dynamic changes during college years, when your children get married, or have their own kids.

However, the truth is, it begins to evolve long before that – particularly as they enter the pre-teen years.

Trethowans
Trethowans

The pre-teenage years are notoriously challenging as children prepare for their first tastes of the adult world- sex, drugs, peer pressure, and the impending college application process. Approximately 86% of teens experience peer pressure and with 90% of preteens in America now active on social media, the pressure begins a lot earlier.

For a parent, this period is equally as transformative as for their child. They find themselves having to unlearn and relearn parenting strategies to successfully parent their pre-teens and maintain that strong parental relationship with them.

Carve out undivided parent-child time every week

Every child enjoys the undivided attention of their parent- if done right. Make it a regular habit to have dedicated parent and child time every week. This gives you a chance to catch up on what is going on in their lives.

One good way to do this is to have a family dinner night every week or set aside an afternoon for activity between you two every week. Feel free to make up your traditions and personalize it according to you and your child’s interest. 

Get involved in their interests with tThem

As your child enters their pre-teen years, they begin to experience newfound independence and new interests, which they want to explore. Whether it is listening to them talk about their new favorite video game or getting your tween daughter a present that reflects her interests like singing, fashion, or dancing, getting involved in their interest is a great way to connect with your young teen.

It is also the perfect way to kickstart a conversation with your child. They are more likely to open up to you if they feel you are relatable and as a bonus, those nights of doing activities together can turn out to be some of your most treasured memories. 

Normalize the difficult conversations

The pre-adolescent years are a common time where your child will face sensitive issues including peer pressure, mental health, sexual activity, and drug use. Having difficult conversations with your teen may be tricky but they are essential to their well being, and in helping them make the right choices as they explore their growing independence.

To get these conversations going, the best approach is to make these issues a normal part of your conversations in your home. Naturally, your child’s curiosity about these issues will increase during these times.

Encourage them to ask questions and when listening or responding, try to adopt a non-judgmental attitude. Doing this will encourage your child to feel comfortable confiding in you or asking you the common questions teens face.

You may also want to try changing your communication style with your child. Whilst it was all about problem-solving when they were younger, many pre-teens want a parent’s support and listening ear as they get older.

However, while you should encourage your child to open up and encourage your child’s independence, parents should still be aware of red flags with their pre-teens like sudden temper issues or loss of appetite, or interest in favorite pastimes.

Teens may not always come to you when they are facing issues so be aware of certain cues can help you provide them with the right guidance or help.
As your child grows up, their personality and needs change. As a result, your parenting style needs to change along with it.

Parenting a preadolescent may feel like a sudden shock as your child suddenly seems to have grown up overnight. While it may seem like they are suddenly grown up, preteens still need their parents, maybe even more than before.

Photo by IIONA VIRGIN