Connecting with Your Preteen Helps Them Be Responsible Adults
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Select activities and outings with your children where talking and listening can take place. Television and movies may be helpful if they will act as a springboard for conversation. Don’t miss out on those chances. Sharing an after-school snack or meal, folding laundry, or cooking together can be perfect opportunities for conversation. Whenever and wherever you’re alone and relaxed with your preteen can be a great chance to relate and connect.
Listen, and really talk.
Have the courage to bring up tough topics with your growing child. Talk to your kids about the consequences of choices that can harm them. Ask your kids if anyone has ever approached them about smoking or using illegal drugs. Let your kids know how you feel about them using these substances. Resist getting angry if your child tells you they’ve already tried something harmful.
Teach your kids about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, weapons, and sex. They need to know the facts from you. Remind them all the time that they can come to you any time with a problem or just to talk. Be receptive and listen.
Present open-ended questions to your preteen. Here are some sample openers: What did you and your friends do at the party (concert, game)? Who was there? What did you do in English class today? How do you feel about kids smoking (using drugs, alcohol, and having sex)? What do you think you would do in that situation? What grade do you feel you deserved? What did you learn from this experience? How did you feel when your friend (teacher, coach, crush) didn’t include you? How do you feel about lying (cheating)? Is there something you’d like to tell me or ask me? Try to avoid statements or questions that may make your child respond in a single-word answer that may inhibit conservation.
By presenting open-ended questions to your kids, you’ll get to know what they’re thinking, doing, and feeling. You’ll also have a chance to tell them how you feel about certain important subjects. Remind them that you were once their age. You can share experiences of your youth if you think they will help your child grow and learn.
Preteens and teenagers still need the guidance and support from their parents to gain the skills necessary to make healthy choices. The best tool parents can give adolescents is healthy self-esteem. Self-confidence and healthy self-esteem are fostered by open and positive communication between parent and child.
By staying connected with your kids and being a positive role model, you’ll provide your kids with the tools they need to arm themselves for peer pressure and negative influences. They will be prepared to face and handle tough situations they are bound to encounter during the middle and high school years.
Louise Hajjar Diamond is a guidance counselor, freelance writer, and mother of two. For more of her school resources, check out counselorsclips.com.