Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Tween-age Years

I wrote of the challenges I face parenting the 11-year-old not that long ago.

2015 felt like a particularly difficult parenting year for me. This year, however, it seems to have taken a turn for the better.

A great post (click here) that I chanced upon recently suggested more important lessons and pointers on parenting tweens.

Talk and Listen
This is something which I do daily since the kids were little. Now that the boys have such long school days that end at 4.30pm most of the week, time to connect has become scarcer. So I make sure we have little chats in the car when I am driving the boys to and from school and I always sit with them at meal times when we will chat about the day, share our thoughts and opinions. When there is a need for more serious discussions, I set aside time to talk and listen.

Pick Your Battles
This is so true, but not easy for me to do. I am still learning to let go of the smaller issues and be selective in our battles. One of my pet peeves is mess. It gets on my nerves to see messy rooms, but barking at the kids to tidy up to my standard on a daily basis will upset everyone too much and require too much time/energy. But I refuse to tidy up for them or they will never learn the need to tidy (which is another reason why I choose to do without a maid). So I close one eye to messy study tables and beds or avoid entering their rooms when they are not home.

Set Clear Logical Limits Together
For instance, in the case of time spent on online gaming, if kids have their way, they will spend all their waking hours playing games. So I made it clear right from the start that gaming time is a privilege that needs to be earned and not an entitlement. I set house rules to limit their usage and enforce the rules as fairly and strictly as possible. Sometimes I allow them to negotiate the terms of usage if they can be persuasive enough, to give them opportunities to hone their negotiation skills and to learn to take ownership in planning their priorities.

Expect More, Accept Less
I am a firm believer of setting high expectations of kids, believing that they can be more capable, to give them room to grow and succeed. At the same time, I also allow them time to fail and be less successful at the initial tries. Only through experiencing frustration and disappointment, can they learn to manage setbacks and emotions, before they can learn resilience.

Above all, I try to express love to the boys through both words and actions. And no matter how tough the day might be, or how upset I might be with whatever that had happened, I have learnt to walk away from the situation to give myself time to breathe and gather my thoughts. I try to remind myself to calm down and focus on the big picture. And always, return to the situation with a plan to resolve.

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