Tween getting out of hand? The 10-step coping guide…
Created by Kavita Mungi Updated on Feb 18, 2021
Hiren is rolling on the floor in a mall demanding an expensive toy; Sanya refuses to eat her veggies and screams out for junk food; Ayan comes home from school regularly all beaten up by some older kids and locks himself in his room; Shireen has been consistently getting poor grades despite being a topper a few years ago; Manav bangs his head on the wall if he is not allowed a night over at his friends.
Walking the tight rope is not easy, especially when you are faced with these situations. Just reading about it is enough to stress out any parent who has been there.You're wondering what happened to that bubbly child who never let an hour pass without hugging you and saying "I love you!"
It is during the tween and the teen stage that a child learns the art of assertiveness – it is a life skill, and your response to it will determine the development of your child's character. If you react with equal or more aggression, you might end up with an introvert (read-timid) child and if you ignore it, your child might never learn how to deal with life's situations with a balanced mind.
Why Is My Tween Acting Out?
Understanding what is happening to your child's mind and body will help you handle this phase. The onset of puberty brings with it not only body changes, but also hormonal changes that trigger mood swings and what you perceive as unreasonable behavior. Your child is not in control of his thoughts and feelings. Here are some reasons why your child behaves the way she does-
- Growing up:The acts of rebellion are not a reflection of his nature or character, it is simply a part of growing up. She is an independent (well, almost) individual and she wants you to know it
- Peer pressure: Watching friends and other children behave in a certain way can influence her
- External factors: Body image issues or wanting to look "cool" can also affect the way your child behaves
How Do I Deal With My Tween's Behavior?
Sexting, smoking, porn surfing, cursing, back talk, flouting rules, drugs and threatening parents – all this can start at an age as early as 10. It is natural for you to feel helpless, frustrated, angry and clueless, and understandably so. You feel like your angelic child has transformed into a ridiculously difficult child – what should you do?Here are some tips to help you deal with your tween's behavior-
Value System: The first and extremely important step is to establish a value system. You may also call it family or home culture.
- Your family is a small unit of this community and it should have a culture of its own - culture helps to bind people together and set rules for right conduct. It could be anything from honesty, respect for elders, responsibility, zero tolerance for substance abuse, no secrets or lies, communication without fear
- Set up a code of conduct and paste it up in your child's room. It is best to catch them early, so do this when your child is turning 7 or 8, so the value system is well ingrained by the time your child enters the tween stage
- Assertive vs Aggressive: Create an environment of "freedom." The more stifled and bound your child feels, the more she will be prone to rebellion. Give your tween the space to spread her wings. Do not feel intimidated if she starts speaking with assertiveness. Remember your child is growing up, accept this fact and let her become assertive. But yes, draw the line between assertive and aggressive.
- Live the law as parents: Lead by example. Whatever you want your child to learn and not learn, demonstrate with your own actions. Remember the old adage that children learn by imitation
- Carrot and stick: Set up a proper system for rewarding good behavior and do not cave in to bad behavior. If you do, your child will tend to capitalize on it. When you need to discipline them, do it with conviction. Teach them that their actions are not acceptable. Different methods – time-outs or withdrawing privileges (ones that are connected to their negative actions) – work for different children
- Balanced approach to discipline: When you maintain a balanced approach to discipline, your tween will know that though there are rules that need to be followed. Disciplining is simply guiding your child to make the right choices without threats or irrelevant punishment
- Make household chores mandatory: This might be difficult to start with, but keep up the effort to make it happen. Get your child to start helping with simple chores like tidying up his room and making his bed
Company matters: The company your child keeps in these years will influence his mind to a great extent. While you cannot stop your child from befriending whom he feels like, you can definitely keep an eye out-
- If your child is spending too much time with a particular friend behind locked doors, you know it is a red flag - don't let it pass. Do not allow locked doors
- Keep track of what online games he plays, and with whom. Have a general idea of what he's watching on the internet
- Being strict and firm when you see your child slipping down the wrong alley. Follow your instincts and take corrective action - don't keep waiting for proof; it might get too late!
- Do not reprimand in public: Always deal with the problem at home. You have to build on your patience and tolerance. Before you go out, tell your child what you expect out of him, so your child is forewarned. Never humiliate your child in public, and don't nag or reprimand your child in front of other people, especially your child's friends
- Respect their individuality: You need to respect the fact that your child is growing up and has her own likes and dislikes. So don't try to mould her according to your whims and fancies. Do not force anything on your child without an explanation - she is at a 'questioning' stage. Answer her questions patiently and make an effort to understand your child
- Plan fun activities together: Your tween might block you out during these years, and won't be inclined to share everything with you. Respect this. Do not try and start conversations all the time - this will only push your child away further. What you can do is watch movies together, go out for meals, play an outdoor game and so on. This lightens the atmosphere and consequently encourages sharing
As with all things in life, "this, too, shall pass." Your tween's difficult behavior is a part of growing up. Accept this and be patient. Talking to fellow parents is a great stress buster, besides being a source of some good tips to help you cope. So have a strong network of friends who might be in similar situations.
How did you cope with your tween's behavior? Share your experience in the comments section and help other parents tide through this phase!
| Feb 25, 2017
very good suggestions however I feel that household chores should not be used as punishment or to teach a lesson for bad behavior cos that way the child will develop a negative attitude towards household chores. rather the child (girl or boy) should be positively introduced to daily chores just like any other life skill.
| Sep 28, 2017
this transformation from an angelic child to a difficult child sometimes goes beyond parent's understanding.. this blog really makes us understand the factors possibly responsible for this abrupt transformation in a child and how to deal with these effectively. thanks for sharing it!
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