Managing Bad Habits of Your Pre-Teen
Read more from Eva-Maria here. Please pass onto parents!
People say kids go through stages of their life, for example, the term ‘terrible twos’ gets flung around every single day. Hmmm...perhaps those people haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the pre-teens years.
Over the summer, I was working at a furniture store and you see some interesting families come in. A lady came in with her daughter looking for a bed for her ‘little angel’. The daughter would have been just under 12 years old, and for all I knew, she was probably halfway on her journey to becoming an international supermodel wearing short shorts, with her long tanned legs. She also had fantastic taste. After I took them around all the options of beds we had to offer, the daughter came back to the most expensive bed we had. She looked mature for her age, and handled her mother’s objections to the price quite well. I had just gone over to the counter to get the paperwork for them to fill in to complete the purchase and the next thing I know, I hear a bellowing shriek:
“MUUUM! Mum, come talk into the fan! The sound is sooooo funny. Look Mum, ‘Ghelooooo...ghoooowww arrrrrrrre yoooooooewwww’”
The startled Mum couldn’t hide her embarrassment.
“Let’s make this quick” she said eyeing up the booklet of details I brought for her to go over.
Now, this isn’t an article to make this dear family look bad at all, but over the past few months I’ve been getting e-mails from parents from all over the world with the same question that you may find you’re asking yourself as well: how to tame these pre-teens and their actions and habits.
Let’s take a look at a couple of very common issues you as a parent may be experiencing on a regular basis and see how you can help break some bad habits before they turn into an embarrassing situation in front of others. After all, prevention is better than cure and as a parent, not only would it give you peace of mind that your pre-teen won’t do something impulsive while you’re out with them, but also make sure they don’t carry on with the same habits into their adult lives.
What to do when... Your pre-teen is showing their age in public.
Teens are described as walking, ticking time bombs and the only reason for this is because someone forgot to mention in their pre-teen years that some displays of behaviour are not the right carry-on. To damage-control a ‘situation’, after an embarrassing thing happens, stay cool – just remember that you have it all under control.
When you have a moment getting back into the car or going to get a bite to eat before the next place, ask your pre-teen what their reasons were for their actions. Even adults sometimes need a moment to stop and reassess how they handled a particular situation, and pre-teens need to gain the same type of thinking. It may take a number of times before they start questioning their actions themselves, but the act of questioning their actions – even the smallest ones may help them to think before they act next time. When you bring in a culture of questioning impulsive actions (and do this as many times as it takes) they will develop a natural reaction over time to stop and think about what they should or shouldn’t do and how it may affect others. The actual action of you questioning them will bring them to think about why you might be questioning them in the first place. Which brings us to the second step, and that is to explain how the situation affected you. It’s important to teach young people that all their actions affect those around them, and as basic human instinct, going back to Freud’s Pain vs. Pleasure Theory, we psychologically don’t want to have a negative impact on those around us – especially those closest to us.
A study I conducted of over 1800 teens around the world for 6 years, states that over 99% of teens see letting down their own parents as a huge mistake. They simply do not want to let their parents down in any way, so use this – not for blackmail, but to gain better understanding; so your pre-teen gains an understanding of how something they do affects others.
What to do when... Your pre-teen is talking back.
You remember yourself as a young person – you wanted to question absolutely everything under the sun because you saw ways of how you can do things better; how you knew better than most of the population. Well, not much has changed since then. Talking back is another way of finding out more about the world, in disguise. Next time you are having an argument, pause for a moment and come back to the original point of conflict. Was it the messy room that sent you both on a downward spiral? Or was it the fact that you didn’t let them go to that party they’ve been planning to attend all week? What is it that really annoyed you about the situation that sent you both into a battle? Now, with a deep breath, bring it back to the original point and in a calm voice take a minute or two (one sentence is never enough) to explain your reasons behind your decision or opinion.
What to do when... Your pre-teen has probably been giving you reasons all this time... “But Mum, all my friends are going – if I don’t show up they’ll think you guys are mean. Why can’t I go?” or “Daaaad, the clothes in my room are only seen by me – why would it bother you whether my space is tidy or not?”
See – they want to know your reasons. Reciprocate the reasons and show your side of the story.What’s the biggest point of conflict between you and the pre-teen in your life? (Comment below)