Living and learning in uncertain times challenges families. This has been a particularly stressful time for parents, teens, and ‘tweens (pre-teens) as they deal with isolation and loss of traditional summer activities. The ordinary, everyday things taken for granted just a short while ago, parents now approach with caution, like going to the mall or having a sleepover with friends. Parenting is a tough job and sometimes the answers are not easy to give.
Putting the health and safety of our children first, as parents, is our responsibility, right? Still, it is important to listen to what your teens and ‘tweens are saying. Parents here are some strategies to remain connected with your teens and ‘tweens:
Be Available – Plan time for your kids. Shut off the television, put away your cell phone and be where they are.
Stop and Listen – Focus on what your kids are saying. Is your tween upset that you said no to a friend’s pool party or worried about another friend’s safety at the party?
Think before you respond – This can be a tough one, after all, as parents, we want to provide a solution or closure. Coming home late from work and rushing to cook dinner, may not put you in the best mind-set. Frame your responses to invite more conversation later and then follow-up.
Be Patient – Give your teen/’tween the time to express their feelings. Let them share in their own words, and avoid the temptation to rush in to finish their sentences or change the subject.
Just Be There – Sometimes kids do not want to talk or they just cannot put the words together in their heads to describe the emotions they are feeling. Instead offer to; play a game, do some crafting, or simply take a walk.
In these unusual and ever changing times, our teens and ‘tweens are learning important life skills, like managing uncertainty, flexibility, and resourcefulness. Research has shown, relationships with parents and caring adults builds resilient teens and ‘tweens. Connecting with teens and ‘tweens, during these stressful and uncertain times turns these experiences into powerful teaching moments.