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1914 Brunswick Avenue #1b | Charlotte, NC 28207 | 704.910.2055

You’ve made it through 3 am feedings, temper tantrums, leaving your toddler at daycare and sending your 5-year-old to Kindergarten, but the teenage years are quickly approaching. What should you do now? As much as you may like to simply lock your child in her room for the next 10 years to allow all of those chaotic years to pass, let’s be real. That’s not going to happen! It’s true; the teenage years can be challenging and filled with upheaval. But they are also years of great intellectual, emotional, and physical growth for children. To keep from pulling your hair out during these years, let’s first understand that growth.

Tweens start separating from their moms and dads to become more independent and are increasingly more aware of how others see them. While they may trust their parents, their friends’ opinions often carry more weight because they are desperately trying to fit in. This can be a hectic time for some young people. Their bodies are developing; their emotions are rapidly changing, peer pressure is difficult to navigate, their hormones are raging, and feeling comfortable and confident in their own skin can be overwhelming. But, have no fear!

Here are a few things you can do to prepare for the tween years:

Be Prepared – Go back to when you were your child’s age and think about how you felt about acne, boyfriends, girlfriends, getting your period, or not being allowed to go to the 10 pm movie on a Friday night. If you remember how you felt, it may help prepare you for how your child might respond. Being prepared is half the battle!

Talk – Have those difficult conversations now. It may feel easier to talk about it when something happens. For example, your daughter gets her period in gym class and she doesn’t know what to do. So she calls you feeling embarrassed that everyone saw her tarnished clothes. Have the period talk, safe sex, drug addiction, and drunk driving conversations early and often.

Pick Your Battles – Is it really so awful that your tween wants to dye her hair purple, or is it more important that your tween gets an A on the Honors Biology test? Tweens want to shock their parents and it’s a lot better to let them do something temporary and harmless than something permanent and horrible.

Set Expectations – Tweens may not like the rules and guidelines you put in place for them. Though, they usually understand. Tweens need to know you care enough about them to have expectations, such as getting good grades, maintaining a healthy hygiene, and following the house rules. Boundaries and structure help demonstrate your care and concern for your tween. If the expectations you set are age- appropriate, they may be more likely to follow them.

Respect Their Privacy – Do you find yourself saying, “What business? You don’t have any business!”, when you’re thinking about your tween’s privacy? This one is understandably very difficult for most parents because they feel they need to know all of their children’s business. However, in order for tweens to develop and to become a healthy young adult, they’ll need you to allow some privacy. Of course, you have to find a balance between being aware and being overbearing.

Monitor what kids see and read – In today’s world of social media, Netflix and YouTube, tweens are exposed to all kinds of things that could potentially be bad for them. Educate your tween about appropriate use of these platforms, set clear boundaries and expectations, and check-in with your tween regularly.

Know the warning signs – Isolation, grades falling, low self-esteem, irritability, excessive use of electronics, and changes in sleep or eating patterns are all signs that your tween may be struggling. If you are unsure if your tween is struggling or “being a normal tween”, then consider how long the behaviors last, how severe they are, and how different they are from their usual behavior.

Need a second opinion? Call Isaiah Counseling & Wellness at 704-910-2055. We have an experienced team of Therapists who would love to help you.