Kids grow up so fast. One day, we’ll just wake up wondering where our cute little boys and girls go and how our chubby-cheeked angels got replaced with these sulking, rebelling tweens living with us.These trains of thoughts aside, we have to remember that we went through this very same life phase our tweens are going through – puberty.
Our kids are dealing with a lot of issues on top of the physical changes puberty brings. So, to understand them, family experts all agree that COMMUNICATION is the key. With this said here are the five very important things you need to sit out and talk with your adolescents.
In talking to your tweens about their friends, don’t say outright, “I don’t want you being friend with so-and-so” because that isn’t communicating, it’s giving an ultimatum. Instead, when you do talk about friendship and the choice of friends, let your tween know these things…
- That being friends don’t mean disregarding wrongdoings or even taking part of them.
- That those friends who force you to do things you don’t want aren’t true friends.
- That it’s okay to say “no” to them.
“Please try not to base your feelings and thoughts about this friend solely on the friend’s history. Individuals of all ages change and everyone deserves a second chance,” said Barbara Greenberg, PhD.
“There was once when mom told me not to friend someone because she thinks that girl wasn’t good for me. While I think the world of my mom, I think parents should let us figure the good-bad thing about our friends ourselves.” – Mary Ann, 14.
- Alcohol and Other Prohibited Substances like Drugs
The drugs and alcohol talk is important as statistically, it is during middle-high school that teenagers get their first try on things like smoking cigarettes and trying marijuana joints.
“Teenagers grow up in a culture that glamorizes drinking and makes alcohol easily available. Unfortunately, drinking can have serious consequences,” said Jann Gumbiner, PhD.
In doing this…
- Don’t talk to your tween when he’s in the middle of doing something. Set a place and time – you can let him do that – wherein both of you are in full attention with what’s about to happen.
- Don’t dish out ultimatums or accusations immediately. Make this talk a part of positive communication with your tween. If you suspect he’s been experimenting with these things, approach him in a gentle way.
“My dad talked to me about alcohol and stuff last year. It was a relief since I know kids at school had tried some stuff and I felt scared approaching my parents about it. My dad’s pretty strict about things, but when we did talk, he was open and very communicative.” – Liam, 15.
- Online Presence
Your tween may know more about the internet than you do but this isn’t about whose more knowledgeable about stuff. Online predators are always on the lookout for persons to victimize, and you don’t want your child to fall into that trap. In talking…
- Make your kid aware of online grooming and the other tactics online predators use to reach out to their victims. More knowledge means more power to fight against these crimes.
- Inform your tween clearly and firmly that you’ll be monitoring his online use and presence like check his social media accounts from time to time. However, don’t violate his trust or identity when you do like making posts through his accounts. When you say check, you check.
- Tell him that when he feels something is not right, he can always tell you about it.
“My mom checks my social media accounts from time to time. I got angry at first but got used to it later on. It also makes me more careful about the things I post online because she also has her social media accounts and we’re friends!” – Shayne, 15.
“After all, many teens don’t consider the permanence, or the public nature, of their social media posts, often blindly sharing information and photos they wouldn’t want their parents to see. And people—their parents, yes, but others, too—are taking notice,” said Peggy Drexler, PhD.
4. Body Image
Puberty brings about an onslaught of physical changes that your tween may find overwhelming. You can expect mood swings, self-consciousness and even lowering of self-esteem. They’ll also try to build up their identities at this stage and assert a little independence on the clothes they want to wear.
- Give them the freedom to make their own choices. If your tween wants to wear crop tops and you disagree, tell her why but let her decide. Don’t go on the “it’s not appropriate” lecture right away.
- Chubby tweens or those who have acne may feel more self-conscious about their physical looks. While it’s important to give them a pep talk about being physically beautiful, it’s also helpful that you help them develop good personal hygiene habits like living and eating healthy.
“My parents and I, we don’t see fashion eye-to-eye. Crop tops are the big thing, but my dad would always say, “Karen, what’s that your wearing?!”…It gets me frustrated at times.” – Karen, 16.
Sex is, perhaps, the most difficult and awkward matter you have to talk with your child. But it is something you need to do as, by this time, your tween is curious about it. When talking…
- Make your family’s values clear on premarital sex and having an active sex life before marriage.
- Raise your child’s awareness on contraceptives, diseases he can get from unprotected sex and even unwanted pregnancies.
- Remember that while schools have sex education, it’s important that you, parents, express your concerns about this matter to your kids. It just shows you care.
“Both my parents came to me to talk about S-E-X. It was the most awkward conversation I had with them. And though I know the things they warned me about, I like that they cared enough to really talk to me about it.” – Andrew, 15.
“Whether it is sex or another major life decision, open and positive communication with your teenager will inspire him or her to make smart choices. Remember, the best way to keep your kid healthy is keeping your relationship healthy,” said Sean Grover, LCSW.