How to Get Your Kid to Communicate With You
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According to the American Medical Association (2001), during the “tween” years, children begin to spend more time with peers, and less time with family. In addition, some “tweens” experience mood swings, and confusion during that time.
Do you have a “tween” who refuses to talk to you? If so, you are definitely not alone. Many parents complain that their “tweens” and/or teens will not communicate with them. Truth-be-told, the “tween” and teen years are wrought with angst and the need to be autonomous (independent). These kids want to be “grownups” and “children” at the same time. This is an especially confusing time for “tweens” because they aren’t young children anymore, yet they aren’t fully teenagers either. And, as a result, sometimes they behave like “young children” and sometimes they behave like “teenagers.”
It can also be confusing, frustrating, and depressing for parents, who do not know how to “reach” their children. So, what exactly is a “tween?” Well, a “tween” is someone, who is a pre-teen. In other words, this child is on the verge of entering the “teenage years.” According to Dictionary.com (2015), a “tween” is typically between 10 and 12 years old – too old to be a child and too young to be a teenager. If you are a parent with a “tween” who will not communicate with you – do not fret. This article will teach you new ways to get your “tween” to talk to you. Listed below are valuable ways to communicate with your “tween”:
Agree to Your “Tweens” Terms
If you really want to communicate with your “tween,” you will need to “get on their level.” In other words, you will need to agree to their terms of communication (as long as it is not unhealthy or destructive). Be prepared to listen and talk with them, even when you are tired, sick, or simply had a long day. More specifically, if your “tween” comes home from school wanting to tell you something - do not “shoo” him or her away. Listen and pay attention. Do not judge, blame, and/or criticize your “tween,” even if you disagree with something he or she tells you. Also, do not provide “feedback” unless your “tween” asks for it. Moreover, listen and talk to your child whenever he or she comes to you, even if you are driving in your car, grocery shopping, or even at work. Furthermore, if your “tween” only wants to talk to you during certain times (i.e. between commercials, in the evenings before bed, etc.), then talk to him or her during those times. If your “tween” knows that you are always available for him or her, he or she will open up to you.
Be a Role Model
If you want get your “tween” to open up and talk to you, you will need to be a good role model for him or her. In other words, model the behaviors that you want your “tween” to exhibit. If you want your “tween” to be outgoing, open-minded, positive, and/or friendly – model those behaviors (all of the time). It is important to understand that the “tween stage” is a really challenging period. Your “tween” may not understand where he or she belongs. Am I a child or teen? So, it is important to instill the values and behaviors that you want him or her to demonstrate. Also, don’t be so judgmental. Your “tween” is at the stage, in which he or she wants to try new things and push the limits. It is ok for your “tween” to make mistakes – it is part of life. When your “tween” makes a “bad” decision, fails, or makes a terrible mistake, do not criticize or blame them, rather keep the lines of communication open by telling him or her that although you are disappointed, you still love him or her unconditionally. Be open and accepting towards your “tween,” and he or she will communicate with you.
Shut Your Mouth!
Yes, one very effective way to get your “tween” to communicate with you is to shut your mouth! Most parents have a tendency to talk too much, especially when their “tween” tells them things they really don’t want to hear or deal with, however, the best thing to do is to keep quiet and listen, when your “tween” shares his or her feelings with you. As mentioned above, don’t give your opinion or advice unless your “tween” asks for it. Rather, simply let you “tween” know that if he or she needs or wants your help, you are available. It is important to remember that your “tween” is just like you – sometimes he or she just wants someone to listen as he or she works through problems. So, shut your mouth, and listen to your “tween” – he or she is trying to communicate with you!
If you really want to get your “tween” to relax and open up – get silly with him or her. Most “tweens” still have their playful, silly side, so if you really want your child to communicate with you, try being silly too. In other words, play around with your “tween” until he or she relaxes and laughs. Being “goofy” may sound like a fate worse than death to most parents, but “tweens” love a funny, cool parent. If your “tween” feels like he or she can laugh and have a good time with you, he or she will be more apt to talk to you on a regular basis.
Tell the Truth
One of the best ways to get your “tween” to talk to you is to tell the truth – all of the time. In other words, tell the truth, even when it is difficult. It is never ok to lie to your child, as it is never ok for him or her to lie to you. So, teach your “tween” to tell the truth by always telling the truth yourself. If you do not know the answer to something, be honest with your “tween” and tell him or her that. So, what should you say in that situation? Well, just say that you do not know the answer, but together you will be able to figure it out. Being honest and the flood gates of communication will open up between you and your “tween.”
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
American Medical Association. (2001). Parents & teachers: Teen growth & development, years 11 to 14. Sutter Health: Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.pamf.org/parenting-teens/health/growth-development/pre-growth.html
Carolina Parent. (2015). Tweens & teens. Retrieved from http://www.carolinaparent.com/tweensteens/index.php
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Young teens (12-14 year age). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/adolescence.html
Dictionary.com. (2015). Tween. Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tween