High School

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How to bond with your tween

Girl on the phone - how to bond with your tweenIf your tween is already rolling her eyes at you
and treating you as if you’re so, like, not cool, you
might want to pull a few time-tested tricks out of
your fanny pack. (“So not cool, Mom!”)

“The switch over from having a child who
adores you to a pre-teen who wants nothing
to do with you can feel sudden,” says Jennifer
Kolari, child psychologist and author of Connected
Parenting. “All of a sudden it seems they’re arguing
with you, slamming doors all the time and getting
into a negative cycle.”

At Taking an Educated Approach to Learning, a
recent conference hosted by KMT (The Learning
Group) in Toronto, Jennifer explained how
parents might start to notice this behaviour when
their child turns nine or 10.

First, their hormones are changing as they
begin to turn from kids into adults. Then there
are the lessons they’re getting from the media.
“You can’t find a show on TV that has adults who
aren’t morons,” says Jennifer. “Parents are easily
tricked and kids solve the problems. Sometimes
there is a strange absence of adults, even in kids’
shows. We see kids talking to adults in horrible
ways and there is a sense that adults are there to
serve them.”

We start to assume it’s normal preteen
behaviour when a child acts out or treats us with
disrespect, but it doesn’t have to be, says Jennifer.
With some patience and a concerted effort, you
can stay connected with your tween through these
tender years.

Jennifer Kolari’s
tips for tween

Be the person your
tween wants to be with.
They don’t want to be with a nag.
They want to be with someone
who listens and who comforts

Remind them of their
baby years.
Look through photo
albums and reminisce about when
they were a baby – even for just a
few minutes every so often. It will
help draw your kids back to you.
Then, when you have to correct
their behaviour, they will know it
comes from a place of love.

Make a date with your
Parents tend to place an
emphasis on ensuring their kids
have a wide social circle, but there
is nothing wrong with making sure
you’re part of that circle. It’s how
you stay close to them. If you’re
always farming them out to neighbours
or play dates, it may come at
a cost. You want your kids to orient
themselves around you, not their

Ditch the tantrums. When you get upset, it’s easy to
yell and say things you don’t mean.
Try to be the parent you want to
be – this means being neutral and
respectful when you’re correcting
their behaviour. You want your
tween to go away reflecting on
how they behaved, not how you

Give your kids a job. Everyone needs a sense of purpose
and responsibility in the family. Talk
to them about becoming adults
and ask them to watch their sibling
or be in charge of taking out the
garbage once a week.

Talk to your kids. Remind
them you are there if they want to
discuss things they are seeing in
the media or around them.

Put them to bed. When
kids get older they don’t need
you to tuck them in, yet bedtime
is one of the best times to talk to
your kids. Pop in on them once in
a while to say good night and ask
them about their day.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, November 2012.

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