If you have a nine- to twelve-year-old child, it has entered the period of preadolescence. This period is characterized by many changes. These changes include cognition, emotions, social interactions and behavior. Your child might become more distant and independent during pre-adolescence.
According to opinions of numerous experts, parents need to take an appropriate attitude in dealing with potential issues your child might be experiencing. Having the right approach now, can help children later to go through adolescence less dramatically. The following tips are advised by experts such as Steiner-Adair and Laura Kirmayer.
- Don’t feel rejected by their newfound independence
Children in this phase will start withdrawing from parents to a certain extent. They will become closer to their peers instead. When this happens, you should monitor where your child is going and with whom. However, not respecting child’s need to be more independent can make your child alienate from you.
- Set aside special time with your child
It’s important to plan to spend some time with your child each week. This should be your alone time at least once a week, so that you’d be able to keep that connection to your child and its interests, ideas, plans. During that time, you need to dedicate all your time to your child and listen to what is being said. Be persistent in this, and you’ll have much better communication with the child. Moreover, your child will develop better communication with others.
- Try the indirect approach
If you directly asked a younger child how it spent the day or how it felt, the child would respond without any issues. However, asking questions directly like that will now become intrusive and lead to backfiring. So, you might need to apply the indirect approach. Become a listener instead of talking and asking a lot of questions. Your child will then feel that it can talk and say if something is bothering him or her. You might then give a piece of advice or express empathy. You shouldn’t try to resolve every issue they have instead of them though.
- Don’t be overly judgmental
During this period, children start paying attention to their parents’ comments, to figure out how judgmental they are. They will listen what you say about the kids of other parents. Your children then decide how critical you are.
- Watch what they watch with them
One of the good ways to stay connected to your child is to watch what they enjoy with them. In this way, you’ll be able to talk to them about any topic that arises, including those considered taboos. In these situations, you shouldn’t be too intense when it comes to criticizing. It would be best to take a humorous approach.
- Don’t be afraid to start conversations about sex and drugs
Children have to be informed about these topics. They will be somewhat difficult to talk about, but you need to communicate about it without making it a big deal. They need to be warned about potential dangers. It’s crucial that parents react if they notice any issues such as developing addictions, dangerous behaviors, eating disorders etc. There is much literature that parents may use to learn how to start talking to their children about these topics.
- Don’t overreact
As pre-adolescents can sometimes be prone to overreacting, their parents should be the ones that will put things into a perspective. If you child start to cry because it felt left out from peers, you shouldn’t make even bigger drama, but calm your kid and provide advice.
- Don’t be “clueless” either
Don’t pretend that some things your young children do are normal and acceptable, when they actually can become a potential problem. If they drink alcohol, don’t justify that as insignificant. Children must know that this is not acceptable behavior.
- Encourage sports for girls
When they are nine-years-old, the self-esteem of girls will peak, and then it will start dropping. However, according to researches, girls that are part of sport teams have fewer issues with body image, higher confidence and don’t need validation from boys, compared to girls that don’t play sports.
- Nurture your boy’s emotional side
The society, the media and entire culture teaches boys that anything related to emotions, love, friendships and vulnerability in any other way – should be suppressed as it is for girls. You should teach your child that it is okay to be emotional and sensitive, but also point out the fact that expressing sensitivity at school can be harmful among peers.
These phases in a child’s life are never easy, so each parent should try to help as much as possible so that their kid grows up to a healthy and happy individual. The most important thing is to maintain communication and make your child feel safe and know it can count on you all the time.