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Getting Along With Your Preteen
The preteen/teen will try to push a parent's
buttons by acting in disrespectful ways which may involve backtalk or
disrespectful mannerisms. At this point, it's very important that you continue
to stay calm and show your child respect...even if he is not respecting you. You
can calmly let him know that you will be happy to continue a conversation when
he is willing to speak respectfully. When he realizes that he is not pushing
your buttons, the disrespectful behavior may stop. In addition, earn your
Just that! Yelling matches are not productive.
In addition, you will demonstrate negative, disrespectful behavior to your
child. Stay calm and revisit the issue when you are able to communicate in a
Be available and willing to talk with your
child. Let her know that you are there when she is ready to talk. Make
observations about her behavior and encourage her to talk with a close,
responsible adult if she doesn't feel like talking to you (for instance, "You
look like you have something on your mind...do you want to talk about it?").
Even if your child doesn't open up to you, let her know that you are there to
Your child needs to understand your expectations. This is where a behavior chart can come in handy. For example, if your preteen consistently backtalks, then you can set up a behavior chart that targets disrespectful talk and reward him when he makes an effort to stop. In addition, if he doesn't stop, you can set up some clear consequences. Instead of telling your child in generic terms that he is "behaving badly and needs to improve", lay out each behavior specifically that you would like him to work on.
Don't forget to let your child know when she is
doing a great job! Kids respond wonderfully to praise, as we all do. And,
parents have a habit of getting so caught up in negative behaviors that they
forget the basic concept of praise. Kids will often try to repeat positive
behaviors when they are rewarded with praise. Check out our page on 75 Ways To
Say Good Job.
Use teachable moments with your preteen. When
watching a movie or t.v. show, open up discussion about an issue that you see in
the media or use an example from your own preteen years to share with your
child. Remember, you're getting your child ready for independence...help her
learn to make good choices by using real life examples!
Don't criticize. Preteens and teens are
especially sensitive and are developing their self concept. They tend to be
critical of themselves as it is, and they do not need a parent throwing critical
remarks at them. Be accepting, loving, and supportive of your child.
Give your child some control and choice. Again,
he is working toward independence and needs the chance to make some of his own
decisions. For instance, with chores you can give him the choice of when to do
chores. You might say, "Get the garbage out before bed". And, don't remind
him...let your child make the choice when he will take the garbage out. If he
doesn't get to it, then he won't be rewarded...plain and simple. Or, give your
preteen the freedom to go to the mall with friends on the condition that he
checks in with you via phone every hour. Let him know that if he doesn't check
in, he won't be able to have the freedom to go with his friends next time.
by Joanne McNulty, Free Printable Behavior Charts
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