Learning to deal with tween behavior

Last month my son became a teenager, but so far it my ten-year old daughter who seems to have the teenage attitude. With her I get the exasperated “I know” or the sigh and eye roll or her palm slapped to her forehead. And I am pretty over it. It has become where I don’t even want to talk to her at times.

I’ve written before about Lexie’s quest to be different. She has always tried to find what makes her unique whether it is her atypical anatomy or her ability to do something such as draw, heal fast or whatever. Many of her “accomplishments” are more in her head than actual differences. She strives to be different or in many cases “better” than someone else.

And part of me gets that. We all like to think we are different and unique. And we are…to a point. But Lexie’s behavior is now expanding to saying everyone else is treated better than she is. She worries that no one likes her at school even though many kids greet her by name as we approach in the mornings.

She thinks that we treat her brother better than her. And our reactions to him are different. But that is because he is a different person. His attitude and his needs are not the same as hers. I will admit we sometimes sigh (or snap) when she has gotten out of bed for the third, tenth or who-knows-what number time to come tell us something unimportant or to ask a question that clearly didn’t need answering right at that moment. When her brother does the same thing (which happens far less often) we do behave different because when he does it something is usually concerning him rather than it coming across as an action to delay bedtime.

I began writing this post after a really trying afternoon when I was just fed up with Lexie and her attitude. Everything seemed to be about her when the afternoon was and should have been about her brother. (It was his birthday – in case you were wondering.)

I tried looking up some advice on the internet, but it was hard to know just what to look up. I looked up teen behavior, sibling jealousy, ADHD, and whatever else I could to think of for tips on how to better deal with Lexie because I know I am not handling her behavior as well as I could. Here is the tips and advice I picked up that I thought might help my situation.

  • Stay calm. Stop, take a deep breath (or two or three) and continue calmly.
  • Ignore her shrugs, eye-rolls or sighs as long as she is generally behaving like I’d like her to.
  • Focus on my child’s behavior. Avoid comments about your child’s personality or character. Instead of saying “You’re rude,” try something like, “I feel hurt (disrespected) when you speak to me like that.”
  • Give her praise when she communicates in a positive way.
  • Emphasize her strengths.
  • Pick my battles. Sometimes you have to let the small things go and concentrate on bigger issues.
  • Realize that her way of doing or perceiving something is not always the same way I would do or perceive the same situation.
  • Listen to her concerns and ask questions instead of insisting her view is incorrect. Help her find solutions to her concerns or just listen and empathize. Her problems and struggles will seem big to her.
  • Before offering input, ask is she wants to hear it. (Do you want to hear what I think about this?)
  • Set aside time to talk or spend time with her.
  • Try not to get exasperated by her behavior. Take her concerns seriously.
  • Remember that her ADHD may make her relationships with others more difficult. Focus on making one good friend.
  • To not show favoritism, listen openly to all sides. “Thanks for sharing. Now I want to hear your brother’s side.” This will allow her to know that I value each child’s opinion.

All of these sound good, but will I remember them next time Lexie pushes my buttons? Only time will tell. Or instead of counting to ten it might be best if I come back and read this post to remind myself of ways to better handle my pre-teen.

Dealing with tween behavior

It has already started. I see hints of it here and there. Jase is 11-years-old. In just three months he will be 12. Yes, the tween behavior has begun to emerge. There is a hint of defiance sometimes in his voice when we tell him it is time to get off his iPad or that we need to go somewhere. He questions why he must do something or even openly says he won’t do something like try a new food.

whateverIt isn’t that I don’t want him to find his own way, which is part of growing up. I like watching him grow and change. My husband and I are all for giving him room to grow and room to make mistakes. It is our desire to have him behave decently while doing that. No eye rolling. No mellow dramatic sighs or “Whatever” or the dreaded “duh.” (Heck, I have even seen some of these behaviors in Lexie, and she turns nine next month.)

Even though I know he will soon be in Middle School, and the attitude and changes will just keep coming, I am thankful we aren’t fully there yet. But it did make me want me to do a little research on the Internet to see what to expect and some tips on how to handle it.

Tips for handling the Tween years

  • Maintain your Parental Status – Now is not the time to become your child’s close friend. He is looking to you to help him through this confusing stage.
  • Pick your battles/Draw a clear line in the sand – As always, you need to decide what is important. Focus on the behaviors you want or those you won’t tolerate and let the other issues fall to the wayside. So ignore the eye rolls and sighs but enforce the no raised voices or walking off in the middle of the conversation. And of course, be consistent in following through with punishments.
  • Reciprocate Respect – Dealing with emotional tweens or teens can be trying to say the least but remember you need to treat them as an individual with their own thoughts and feelings just as they should treat you as such.
  • Explain what you want – As always, you need to deliver a clear message about how you want your child to behave. And when you think they are behaving disrespectful, take the time to make sure they know what they are doing that is wrong. You can’t assume they know what they said or how they said it was wrong. Remember they are still learning. Tell them what they are doing is wrong and offer suggestions of how to say it more respectfully.

I did find a particularly good blog by a fellow mom. She listed five things pre-teen boys want from their moms. (And her own tween approved the list as being accurate.)

1.) They want us to be there for them but not to talk all the time. (She noted that tweens seemed to tune out adults after about 10 words when given advice.)

2.) They want to be silly.

3.) They want us to set the rules but also want some say in them. (She said when she asked her son about punishments for his misbehavior, he almost always suggested a harsher punishment.)

4.) They want to be loved, even if they don’t act like it.

5.) They want us to have their back.

I am not sure any of these tips will help, but it was interesting reading up on others’ experiences and what worked for them or what the experts recommended. I guess we will take this as with everything else that comes with raising a child, you just deal with it as it happens and expect to make mistakes.