Cell Phones. If you are a parent of a middle school child, perhaps those two words brings a host of emotional responses. Everything from, “I thank God my kid can be safe with a phone now when he/she is not at home” to …. “What in the world is THIS TEXT I see on my daughter’s phone?! Who would send such a horrible text?” Cell phones, like all social media, are a thing that is here to stay and no matter how we may feel about our kids and CELL PHONES, we need to find a clear and resolute standard for our kids to follow and respect.
When asked what is the most important thing you could have if you were stranded on a desert island, what did pre-teen kids say? A Cell phone! More than any other device or thing!!
Cell phones with the texting and the FACETIME can be like having a host of other parent’s kids in your house that you didn’t invite! Suddenly without warning, you are bombarded with another kid or two (depending on how many kids you have with phones) present and carrying on loud chatter at your table! What is a parent to do about this or about any of the ‘rude nesses’ that kids think are “just life and normal”? How about some rules? After all, freedoms without rules is chaos and not what parents want to mirror or consent to.
Identify all people texting your kid. If you don’t have time to check each one, then you are not being a responsible parent. Your kid should expect a loving and protective parent to do such. Being involved is love.
I I really don’t like to go to dentists appointments- I don’t think anyone does unless their tooth is in horrific pain! But a few weeks ago while sitting in the waiting area I couldn’t help but feel so sad for this person across the room. I could see the tiredness in her eyes as she adjusted the earbuds in her ears to take a call. Her laptop was opened on her lap but she was overwhelmed as she talked on her pink cell phone about some report she had messed up- how could that be since spending two weeks on I heard her remind the caller. “I don’t know what to do now, because I have a meeting with Mr. Taylor tomorrow and this Saturday are team finals!” Listening and listening again she was quiet and then reassuringly said just before she disconnected, “OK, mom, dad is about to pick me up- I’ll see you tomorrow after your flight gets in.” This was a child; about 11 years old I guessed.
Today’s kids are growing up too fast and with so much responsibility in their young lives! I don’t mean that I am old fashion, but it is true. Does this describe your child? Tweens are blending in with teenagers and their minds are no different when it comes to social and what is expected of them from teachers, peers, coaches, and their families! Yup. Tweens are 8-12 years old! Remember the days when you were that age? What has happened to cause this jog toward adulthood?
How about PRESURE? We all had pressure as tweens. But today’s world is changing faster than ever before. Pressure from society’s changing landscape, technology, the marketplace and its cultural changes, school pressure, and parents make our tweens into what they are today. Continue reading
You know that the sweetness of her smile and the kindness of her 11 year old voice won’t last very long because you have experienced being a tween parent now for 3 years. Without skipping a beat she is suddenly screaming and ranting and freaking out about something you are oblivious to and shouting – I hate you! It’s then that you remember you’re a parent of a tween
-She says she screams because you scream–
How can we talk to our tween’s? They tell us we scream or the teachers yell- but many times and most of the time- they are just pulling some random remembrance out of a long time ago moment. You may not even remember. They feel misunderstood because their bodies, minds, and friends all seem to be changing so much of the time! Tween’s live in a state of ‘above the clouds’ or ‘disconnect’. Ask a question or make a comment- you may hear an answer or a garbled ‘uhhh-uhhh’. Living in expectation of them to answer right now will close a conversation attempt before it begins. You may hear in a week or a month the answer but no one- not even them many times, knows what’s inside their minds.
As soon as your face becomes inpatient looking or angry looking- a tween has labeled you as ‘mean’ or ‘not nice’. I try to avoid those looks that will spread across my blown mind, so instead I conditioned myself. My tone needs to be matter-of-fact as I try to establish some form of communication with tween’s. Paying attention to me is my goal so if I blow it with a face look or a tone then it’s a no-go!
What to do what to do-
To get our tween’s to stay connected or open up to us, we need to be open and honest with our own experiences, respond in positive tones when they come around and share what they are concerned with or fearful of, and emphasize how we enjoy his/her sharing. The biggie is sympathizing with his/her feelings by listening and listening again. It’s tough because so often they go on and on about stuff that doesn’t make sense to us. But belittling and brushing-off their feelings is seen as rejection which can have lasting effects. Validating is what we want even with our own spouses so why would it be less with our tweens? To validate doesn’t mean we are in agreement but we are giving them the right to share and own those feelings and emotions. Continue reading
The other day I was in a huge hurry so I thought I’d save time in one of those 15 or less check outs at the grocery store. But my impatience suddenly calmed down when I heard two moms in front of me sharing. One mom said her 12 year old wanted to know what she (her mom) would do if she got pregnant! The friend wasn’t shocked; she just came back with her own experience last week. She laughed and then got real serious- looking, then told her friend that her 11 year old daughter was sick and tired of us (her mom and dad) making her do her homework before she was allowed to talk to her friends on her cell phone.
Not sure about you, but cell phones in an 11 year olds hands – might be a recipe for a “disconnect” between daughter and mom (?) These days tweens are not what they were in “those days”- the mom’s days. If we can just remember “those days” when we were tween’s and what came out of our wild and crazy minds and mouths! But these days, tween’s know all about sex, drugs, pornography, alcohol, and all the rest because of the media of TV and all the techie stuff parents allow their kids to own which connects them to the internet! These two moms are about to lose control of parenting their sons and daughters unless they stay savvy and connected with them on a daily basis. Continue reading
We thought it would never arrive. No way- how can my child already be growing up?! Some pimples, facial hair poking through, or her chest filling out are all the tale-tale signs of puberty? How do we approach these very sensitive areas with our tweens? After all, this age alone has challenges as they change in mood and interests. Puberty is an unknown and with all unknowns comes a little anxiety, some fear, and just uncomfortable feelings.
Pace: Kids at different times – at their own pace according to their bodies. But typically boys are a bit later than girls- 9-15 and girls 8-14. Again there is no set time. Of course it makes them ill at ease. Some later than others or earlier than their peers makes for anxiety in some form. What is our experience? How can we BEST be equipped to help our tween?
Be On top: How can we best educate ourselves before our tweens comes with their questions? How can we explain in their language what IS puberty? What are the signs and what do boys and girls experience during this change?
Growing up: Change does not need to be upsetting or something to fear. It’s all about becoming an adult.
Girls: Let’s remember back when we went through puberty. Girls will begin to get a figure – wider hips, their chest will become womanly- breasts will grow, they will get their period and what is all that about? They will get a vaginal discharge as well. Why? How does that work into being an adult? Continue reading
Beginning a new school is pretty tough for any of our children, but when out tween begins middle school, even the more confident child can have some frustrations and anxieties. How best can they begin to feel a part of the new community of middle school?
Clubs! Tween’s need their group or their pack! Clubs are a wonderful answer to feeling included and assured of friends!
FUN- Just because it is school doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Learning about their talents and discovering (perhaps for the first time) new interests brings both shy and extroverted tweens to new and exciting levels. Let’s encourage our child to pursue what he/she knows they are talented in but also to expand on new interests. There are typical clubs like art, music, yearbook, band or orchestra and all just waiting to bring fresh looks into what they already know. Less traditional are scrapbooking, green club, leadership club, math, building clubs, technology, and many other clubs.
NOT BORING BUT.. SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT- It’s not just about ABC’s or math like in elementary school. Now school community becomes a variety and variety makes a difference in how our tween views learning. Without the school clubs there would be no extracurricular plays, art shows, technology contests, yearbooks to collect, school leaders, competitions of all sorts and the list keeps on growing. Continue reading
What in the world was middle school? For many of us it was like walking amongst aliens hoping at any one minute the earthlings would come back to the crazy school, pick us up and take us as quickly as possible home! Perhaps your middle school years were full of good times with discovery, positive opportunities and no glimpses of bullies. Hopefully your soon-to-be middle schooler will have an experience somewhere in the middle these two extremes!
What can we do now to help our tweens prepare for middle school this fall? Make sure your child understand that middle school is quite different than elementary. The unknown is what scares us- discussions can help dissolve the anxieties a bit. Lockers, showers in PE, multiple teachers, all sorts of new cultures amongst the student body, are just a few new experiences they will come to understand.
Tour your child’s school. Many districts offer such tours. A bit like back to school night for parents in elementary, but it is designed to show tweens the physical lay of the school. New concerns arise for tweens as they go through the doors of their new middle school! Gym classes with open showers can scare even the most confident person, much less a 6th grader! Lockers are exciting but learning their codes or the combinations and where that locker is located on the campus can be an anxiety. The tour will set minds to ease and make for a more self-assured and motivated child 🙂 Continue reading