Realizing Your Tween is Becoming a Teen
new ball game full of new discoveries, milestones, and successes and failures. If you pay attention to your tween, you'll be prepared to beat that teen attitude with a smile. Believe me, your effort will be much appreciated.
Letting go is hard, but necessary. Teens need much more space than younger kids. Not only are they likely going through an emotional roller coaster. But being independent is a big part of growing into the adult stage. When your tween starts to become a teen, it's the perfect time to prepare yourself by letting go of certain things. Let your tween make certain choices in preparation for becoming a teen. You can't (and shouldn't) control everything.
You're still in charge, but in a different way. Now, just because you will let go of some things when your tween becomes a teen, it doesn't necessarily mean you aren't the boss. You still have the final word and your tween should know this. However, your tween needs to also feel secure in making some decisions without your help. This will become even more necessary once your tween matures into the teenage years. Just choose your time together wisely and pick your battles.
Take it one step at a time. It's not going to be easy letting go of your baby or realizing that baby is getting closer to becoming an adult. Just relax and take things as they come. Ease yourself into the process by slowly giving up things within reason. Talk to parents who have been down that road before. Your tween is likely going to be acting differently than a few years ago. There will be new interests, new friends, more mature looks, and possibly a new attitude. It's all a natural part of life, as hard as it may be to watch unfold. For every difficult moment, there will be many happy ones. Always remember that.
Find different activities to share. Just because your tween is turning into a teenager, it doesn't mean you can't still have fun together. But your tween's idea of fun may be entirely different than before. Listen your growing child's opinions and choices and let them be heard. Savor the memories from your prior family destinations and activities. Then, make new ones to treasure that go along with your growing teen's needs. Trips to the mall may start to involve movie play dates and makeovers instead of the kiddie play area and ice cream cones. Find out those new things your tween is into and learn how to make them work for you both. Who cares if you don't like the latest band? Take your tween to that concert or buy the music anyway.
When your teen is shouting and stomping, you'll try just about anything to get them to stop. But forget about all those fancy programs. If your teen is the average child without any mental or physical conditions, get back to basics. These simple, yet creative methods work time and again when my teen gets a little cranky.
Find your teen a hobby or let them work. Sometimes a cranky teen is simply a bored teen. Give them something to do. This could be something simple like walking the dog daily. They also may want to volunteer at a local animal shelter. My teen daughter visits so much, she is going to apply for an official position this summer. Sports and local community classes are another way to take up that time and release pent up energies. Department stores, restaurants, and many other establishments often have positions teens can apply for.
Spend more time together. You may think they want you to completely disappear. But the truth is, your teen still loves you and wants your attention. Take time out as often as possible to spend with your teen. It doesn't matter so much what you do, as long as you are spending time together. My teen likes me to go with her to the animals shelter. We also might take walks or have a mother and daughter day. If you have other kids, like I do, try rotating time with each one and spending time with all together.
Give teens room to breathe. This may seem to contradict the idea of spending time together. But in order to be happy and balanced, your teen needs both. Let your teen be independent if he's feeling especially moody. The teenage years can come with pent up frustration for many reasons. Friends, hormones, and just life in general could be stressing your teen out. Let him be alone to think before rushing to ask questions. Sometimes too much prodding can cause even more pressure, especially if your teen is facing a difficult issue or decision.
Just listen. If you want your teen to be able to chill the attitude and open up to you, be quiet. I know firsthand that it can be hard not to ask what's going on or analyze the situation. But sometimes us parents just need to keep our lips sealed. The silence can help calm your teen down and make her feel comfortable enough to open up. When she starts talking, don't offer advice right away. Just listen until she is done. Her attitude may be in part due to the fact that she feels no one is listening to her. If you are always offering advice, you could be adding to those insecure thoughts.
Laugh often. I know, I know. This is so simple. It sounds like it is easier said than done. But trust me, when there is constant laughter, your teen will have an easier time ditching the attitude to the curb. I'm not saying don't take problems seriously. But learn to laugh at mistakes and learn from them. Tell jokes all the time, even if they are corny. Laughter helps relieve stress in both teens and adults and can be very helpful in ditching an attitude problem. It's pretty hard not to laugh when everyone else in the room is doing it. Try it. You'll see what I mean.
Keep in mind that there can be serious reasons behind your teen's attitude. So, don't ignore those signs, even if they are faint. Also, be sure your teen has regular visits to the appropriate health professionals.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Tired of your teen sitting at the computer screen all day? While there is no problem with getting some tech time in, your teen should also be exploring things often. My teens and I naturally explore something just about every day. Together, we have become experts on the natural areas we have access to. Enhancing exploration skills in teens helps contribute to problem-solving skills needed throughout life. It also keeps the mind active and can be soothing to the soul. Even if your teen isn't open to the idea at first, you'll likely see her grow into it sooner than you think.
Make the outdoors a part of every day. Spending lots of time outside helps foster imagination skills, which often leads to exploring. Make sure your teen goes outdoors often, preferably every day. Mock treasure hunts and geocaching can make it interesting and help hone important exploration skills. They don't necessarily need to be on a quest every time. Even playing sports, reading a book, or painting a picture outside will help. My teens love to be outside more than in and that's probably mostly due to the fact that being outside is natural in our family.
Take nature walks and hikes often. You may think your teen will not agree to this activity. But teens naturally need to exert energy and explore. This allows for both. They may groan at first, but many teens will likely get more into this once they try it. For motivation, try giving them a camera to snap photos along the way. You can also set specific goals to accomplish. For instance, you can ask your teen to spot specific plants or animals, overcome certain obstacles, or walk a specific distance. When distance is a factor, be sure to increase difficulty. When we first started walking the trails, a mile or so was the goal. Now it is not unusual for my teens and I to walk several times that distance when we take to the trails.
Send them to camp. Many camps, be they daytime or extended stay, offer adventurous activities. Do your research and find one that offers many chances to explore. Camps that are located among nature scenes are the best option for this. For instance, a camp located in the mountains is probably going to be more adventurous on a daily basis than one located in the middle of the city. But don't let them fool you. Make sure that their activities and itinerary line up with what your teen is looking for in terms of exploration.
Visit archaeological sites. We currently live in a state where dinosaurs used to roam freely. Because of this, there are places not far from our house that have live archaeological dig sites. Some of them allow kids to participate in the excavation. If you don't have a dig site near you, you can create mock ones in your backyard. While the real deal is better, teens will enjoy and learn exploration via the mock site as well. If you are creating a mock site, you can change the subject often. For instance, some themes may be Native American artifacts, Egyptian tombs, or '"lost cities."
Go on mountain adventures. Panning for gold is just one of the many exciting adventures that can happen in the mountains. The winding trails can be exciting as well. Skiing, camping, hiking, water rafting, and biking are all activities suitable for adventures in the mountains with teens. The mountains hold many adventures and mysteries just waiting for you and your teen to discover.
"Ugh, you have got to be kidding! Please don't make me eat that!" Teenagers can be some of the pickiest eaters on the planet. But are they really being picky or are they just exercising their newly discovered freedoms? For some, it might actually be both. So, how do you get teens to eat healthier foods? As a mom with a full house, it's tricky finding things everyone will agree on, including toddlers and teens - two of the pickiest age groups, in my experience. If you want to increase healthy eating habits in teens, you'll likely need to make some adjustments.
Pack interesting, yet healthy lunches. If you pack your teen a lunch that contains her least favorite veggies, expect her to toss or trade it. This may mean she ends up with vending machine goodies or fast food. Neither is likely to be a healthy choice. Instead, always pack her favorite fruits, grains, veggies, and more. Use tasty, but healthy sides and dips to accent the main course. Opt for fat free ranch dressing if your teen likes to dip his veggies. Use fat free yogurt as a fruit dip. Spreadable fruit is a healthier option than jellies and jams. Let her choose from a list of suggested items. This helps ensure she likes what she is eating. Remember to have her pick options from each food group to keep the meals balanced.
Always have healthy snacks in plain view. Leave sliced fruits, veggies, and healthy dips out on the counter near snack times. Teens are likely to grab and much if something is right there. Unsalted mixed nuts, carob chips, low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers, and dried fruits are also easy and tempting. If you leave out snacks like this, your teens may not even think about the other stuff that's unhealthy. They'll already be full from the healthy options. After a while, they can become so accustomed to this, that similar healthy eating options may be second nature.
Don't have unhealthy options around. If access to unhealthy choices is unavailable, teens are more likely to choose healthy eating habits. In this case, they may be doing it because they have no other choice. But it also can create a subconscious pattern that stays with them. If they aren't accustomed to unhealthy foods, they are less likely to crave them. You can't control what is available at their friend's houses. But creating a habit consisting of mainly nutritious options assists in developing healthy eating habits for life.
Talk about your own struggles. You may think your teens aren't listening and they may roll their eyes at you when you tell them certain things. But they definitely hear you and they listen more than you think they do. They just may not want you to know that information. Tell your teens about the mistakes you made as a teen regarding healthy eating habits. Explain how you solved those issues and the differences that occurred because of the lifestyle changes.
Watch movies surrounding nutrition issues. Sometimes teens may need to see the damages unhealthy eating can cause. Scientific videos, as well as dramatic life stories are helpful in this area. Both the technical and lifestyle aspect are needed to illustrate the point fully. When your teen sees the impact that healthy eating habits can make on his life as a whole, it will become easier to make positive choices.
Teaching your teen about healthy eating habits is not always about lecturing. It's ore about proactive consistency and allowing the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. Talk to your teen's doctor about proper dietary habits.
Tweens Who Think They're Teens
"But Jenny's mom lets her do that." The problem? Jenny is 16 and your daughter is only 11. What happens when tweens think they are equivalent to teens? It's very common since kids between 8-12 years of age are able to do many things on their own. Because they can physically act upon things and make choices, many tweens tend to think this means they should be allowed. The problem with this is that there are certain things they simply should not be doing until they are older.
Older siblings can play a role both directly and indirectly. Observing an older sister or brother with more privileges may seem unfair to your tween. Be sure your older kids aren't teasing about their extra privileges. It's also important to make it clear that there are certain age requirements, depending on each new venture in life. If you have more than one child, you need to be consistent with the age a child must be before being allowed to do certain things, such as dating, babysitting, and handling other responsibilities.
Kids with younger siblings may mature quickly. Tweens will naturally look up to their teen siblings. Most kids want to be just like their big sister or big brother. This is a healthy phenomenon and can help kids learn important life lessons. But it can also backfire at times. Sometimes kids want to be entirely too much like their older siblings and mature faster than we'd like them to. To prevent this from happening, I try to make sure each of my kids has their own separate interests they pursue. Sometimes the distraction of their own unique activities can deter thoughts of participating in things meant for the older kids.
Peer pressure may be to blame. Not all parents agree on what is and isn't appropriate at various ages and stages. When tweens see their friends doing things they cannot do, they suddenly want to do them even more. Peer pressure is often a steady battle throughout the tween and teenage years. To help combat it as much as possible, parents can teach their tweens the value of self-worth and how important it is to remain true to oneself. Teaching tweens to make smart choices based on analysis, rather than quick-thinking and pressure to be like everyone else, is important.
Observing child stars may give off mixed messages. Watching the way stars behave on television, in movies, and even in real life can give kids a clouded perception of what life should be like. Naturally, they will want to have and do the things they see in these kids. As a parent, it's important to let kids know the difference between reality and film. It's also important they know the difference between a star's life and an everyday person's life. Let them know that the fraction of star's lives we see is not always a good indicator of how they actually live. Some things could be skewed for ratings, photos can be airbrushed, and we don't see how they live behind closed doors. Kids need to know that behind all the glamor, stars are just people, like you and me.
Your tween likely looks up to you. Just as your tween may look up to older siblings and friends, he also may look up to you. Obviously, your tween cannot do everything that you do. However, that may not stop her from wanting to. You can allow your tween to participate in certain things with you and let him know why he cannot do the others. For instance, let him wear your clothes if they fit. Take him to work on "Take Your Kids to Work Day". Have Mom and Daughter or Dad and Son days. At the same time, encourage your tween to be himself as well.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Your teen student is headed to high school. This is the last portion of his schooling, where he prepares for independence. The choices made here will help influence his life path. Should teen students choose their own schedules? As their parents, should we instead be making this choice? While I would certainly like to decide what is likely to give my teens the best head start in life, I still think the final decision is up to them. Here's why.
What if my teen doesn't know what's best? This is a concern many parents have when realizing that their high school student is going to be choosing their own schedule. Talk to your teen about what his life goals and dreams are. Make sure he knows that his schedule should reflect those plans. Also, there should be guidance counselors assigned to each high school student in most schools. If you are homeschooling, you are likely to have some extra influence over the courses your teen student chooses. Either way, your teen needs to know his options and also that you trust him with the choice.
Can a high school student get an easy schedule approved? Some teens may be sneaky and try to take all elective courses. But thankfully, this is not likely to fly with administration. There are certain courses required each semester. So, if your teen ticks off too many classes that are for fun, without selecting any core classes, she's going to have to fix that schedule to get it approved. It may work during senior year if the student has taken all the required courses. But hopefully, the advice given by parents and counselors will instead encourage choices related to the teen's career aspirations.
What if a parent wants the teen to have certain classes? Being too demanding with the choices your teen faces could cause unnecessary pressure. Remember that this is a part of the preparation toward becoming an adult. As parents, our job is not to control everything our kids do. Instead, it is our job to give them the knowledge and confidence to succeed independently. They won't live with us forever. Just like we made difficult choices and learned from our mistakes, our kids need to do the same. Instead of demanding that your teen take specific classes, talk with him about his goals. Go over the class options together and talk about which ones are best suited to his needs. Let him make the ultimate decision himself.
Will a student-created schedule be balanced? Parents often worry that if a high school student is choosing his own schedule, it might not be quite rounded. Fortunately, because most schools require a specific number of core classes and a set amount of electives, it will pretty much even out. The model ay not always be perfect. But most high school students will get to learn what's required, as well as something else directly related to their interests and career options.
Will my teen effectively schedule toward career options? Talking to your teen can help her decide what's best. You may not think she's listening and she may be rolling her eyes, but she does hear you. Because you don't want to be controlling or demanding, there is not an absolute certainty that your teen will make the right choices. But by giving her the knowledge, you put her one step closer to the right choice. By combining your advice, as well as that of the advisor or counselor, your teen should at least be doing something in relation to life goals.
It's scary raising a teenager, knowing that they have the freedom to make choices both good and bad. Providing your children with knowledge and resources is your job as a parent. But if you want them to be best prepared for life, they need to learn on their own how best to apply what you've given them. It's difficult to place such an important decision in the hands of a teenager. But they need to be given that power in order to have the ability to make even tougher decisions later in life.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
"Is my teen daughter ready for a boyfriend" is an inevitable question that parents of girls will have to ponder. How do you know when your teen daughter is actually ready to handle the joys and consequences that come with dating? Readers were asked for their thoughts and personal experiences on the right age, signs a girl is ready, and dealing with first dates. Here's what some of them had to say.
Jolynne Hudnell, 43-year-old mother of twin girls (age 16) responded with these words:
"I don't know if I'm old fashioned or not, but my girls weren't allowed to go on dates alone until they turned 16. Prior to that, they could go if a parent would be present (I would also need to know the parent's name and cell phone number if they had one). They were always expected to answer my text to check on them, or to text me at certain intervals. They also had to be home at a certain time. If the rules were broken, they would not be allowed to go "on a date" again until they started keeping in contact with me again when going out with a group of friends and such.
Since they kept to the rules prior to turning 16, they now can go out on dates without a parent present. But they still have to keep in contact at certain intervals and answer me when I text. They also have to be home on an agreed upon time.
As for old enough to have a boyfriend, a girl is going to have a boyfriend when she wants, even if she just sees him at school. If she is still attending classes and keeping her grades up, I don't really have a problem with it. If she skips class to see the boy, then we have an issue, and may have to notify the school to be sure she attends classes. So far, both girls have been very responsible about following the rules."
Randy Barefoot, successful father of 2 almost independent women answered:
"My 26 year old, married daughter says, "No teenage girl should have a boyfriend." This revelation is astounding because I told her this when she was 15, but she didn't believe me. For the 1st date, the boy should come to the girl's house where he must meet the parents. His arrival should be timed to interrupt Dad cleaning his shotgun.
Seriously, a girls maturity level where boys are concerned can be measured by her motives. If she wants to date because her friends have boyfriends other frivolous reasons, she has no business dating. When her motive is because she has an honest affection for the boy, she's ready to date.
First dates are preferably group activities. My first date with my future wife was when I was 14 and she 15. It was a triple date with my parents, my sister and her fiance. My parents said I could invite a friend. It surprise them when I asked Sharron.
So the short answer is, examine the girl's motives. Open, honest conversations between parent(s) and teen are the key. Just another good reason for real family dinners where people talk instead of watch TV. "
Khara House, who is a teen mentor, had this sage advice:
"I've told more than one teen-aged girl that she wasn't mature enough for a boyfriend. In fact, I've told more than one twenty-something female that she wasn't mature enough for a boyfriend! Being ready for a relationship isn't, after all, about age as much as it is about knowing who you are and what you want, and having the degree of maturity and understanding necessary to pair that with what another person needs and wants.
One question I asked a girl I was mentoring once was, 'If he asked you right now to do something you'd usually never agree to, would you do it?' If the answer is anywhere from 'yes' to the awkward pause before 'no,' I say she isn't ready. For some girls I'd say it comes down to what the girl wants out of the relationship. Why is she so interested in dating this guy? If she doesn't know, or the reason is based on anything other than the foundational things in a relationship-- i.e., saying 'Because he's so hot!' doesn't cut it-- then she might not be ready!
As for the other thing, about getting through first dates ... I suppose 'roll with the punches' isn't particularly sound advice?"
Another successful mother, Lynda Altman gives these suggestions:
"As a parent you have to ask yourself some very hard questions such as does she have accurate information about her body and sexuality? Does she understand the consequences of premarital sex? Does she understand and know how to protect herself from STDs. Has she taken a self defense course so that when she says NO it means NO. This may seem a lot to ask before something as benign as a fist date, but they may come up.
Archaic as it sounds, as parents do you plan to chaperone the first date? Or is it going to be an outing with a group of friends?
A teenage girl is ready to date when she every little thing is not a crisis. When grades are good and behaviors are in control. If she is still going through the 'I hate you' stage, and everything is about rebellion, then she needs more time before she is ready to enter into a potential relationship."
*I originaly published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans network. She is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! Running a network of websites, tackling deadlines single-handedly, and coaching fellow writers, brands, & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is her top priority.
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