A tween is on the threshold between childhood and adolescence. He is gradually coming out of the former and stepping into the latter stage of growth- albeit a very significant stage of his life.
Various physiological and psychological changes take place inside him/her at this juncture. Parents need to be supportive and friendly while raising their tweens while at the same time they need to be firm in matters that cannot be compromised such as their child’s safety- emotional and physical, their values and discipline.
Raising a tween can be challenging as this is the time your children suddenly learn to argue and reason and even question rules you set for them, they demand more time with gadgets which YOU know can be detrimental for them but it’s difficult to convince them, there is immense exposure to social media and it is difficult to monitor every engagement of your child with this technology without enforcement of some strict rules, a newfound awareness of their physical attributes and the opposite sex begins to dawn upon them at this stage while at the same time the pressure of academics, extracurricular activities, projects etc. is immense.
Here are some simple things I follow religiously as a parent and advise other parents to do as well when they approach me professionally about problems of raising tweens.
1) No comparison with other children of their class but do on occasion make COMPARISON with street urchins who run around selling balloons at the traffic signal to make them appreciate and value the great things and opportunities they have.
2) INCENTIVE for good work ( NOT necessarily academic – like tidying up the room or helping a sibling with his homework, helping in household chores, doing a good project etc.) and PENALTY ( like reducing TV or gadget time or playtime abstention for a day or so) for indiscipline and shirking off responsibilities.
3) QUALITY TIME together in doing chores of the household – cleaning, organizing wardrobe, cooking, clearing table, making bed, sorting stuff, gardening, shopping groceries, cleaning around the house or neighbourhood as opposed to “QUALITY” time spent in a multiplex watching a movie in the company of 1K worth popcorn kernels or at a game zone every week burning a hole in your pocket.
4) Encouraging independent effort in study, deciding what to wear, project work, developing hobbies, tidying up the room, dining habits etc. NO SPOON FEEDING at this stage anymore.
5) Listening to the child with attention and empathy and advising him to sort out his issues on his own through dialogue and communication (don’t be too eager to solve all HIS problems. Intervene only when it is necessary. BUT ALWAYS LISTEN AND STAY CONNECTED)
6) Encourage him to find Happiness WITHIN rather than Success WITHOUT by teaching him to CONNECT with his inner self and then with people around him from all walks of life. Man is ultimately a SOCIAL being. However successful financially, in the absence of friends and family he cannot survive long.
8) Teach them to EXPRESS rather than try to IMPRESS all the time
9) Above all TEACH BY EXAMPLE- from being respectful & responsible & disciplined to reading newspapers, being self-sufficient, being compassionate and striving for excellence because children learn more by emulation than by dictation.
10) Appreciate and celebrate EFFORT, not just RESULTS. Give your child a treat every time he TRIES HARD ENOUGH irrespective of whether he succeeds or fails. Tweenage is a very good time to teach children the IMPORTANCE of FAILURE in the JOURNEY TOWARDS SUCCESS.
11) Ration social media and gadget exposure time by setting a certain duration each week when they would be allowed screen time. STICK TO THIS ROUTINE RELIGIOUSLY. Be firm. It’s for your child’s good.
12) Criticism is important but needs to be done in the right spirit. DON’T CRITICIZE BY COMPARING them to others. Like in Appreciation in Criticism too- FOCUS ON EFFORTS NOT ON RESULTS. Confront your child ONLY if you think he has not PUT HIS BEST FOOT FORWARD not because or when HE HAS NOT RECEIVED THE BEST REWARD. Let him know that you appreciate his efforts and ENCOURAGE him to WORK harder next time.
13) Be a friendly Parent but maintain Hierarchy. It is necessary sometimes to remind your child that ultimately YOU ARE THE BOSS till he is grown up enough to take major decisions of his life. Sometimes they need to obey you even if they don’t agree with you FOR THEIR GOOD.
Every GOOD parent has been perceived as an ENEMY by his child at some point or another.
So take that bickering and argumentativeness and swearing and defiance of your child WITH A PINCH OF SALT.
Don’t throw in the towel yet.
We have a long way to go …..?