When you have your first or only child, hearing all of the horror stories about parenting a teen might seem so far off.
You’ve got plenty of time to deal with all that, right?
Well, not really!
Because, hormones, they are a changin’!
Hence my surprise when I found out that hormones start to change pretty early on – around the age of 8 for girls and around the age of 9 for boys.
Parenting a teen really begins when your child is a tween.
Parenting A Teen Or Tween
Let me tell you a little background about my own son.
He’s my only child and I love him to the moon and back and would do anything for him.
We’ve always had a close, healthy mother/son relationship that I cherish with all my heart.
Disciplining my son had, up until around the age of 10, been relatively easy.
Back when the ‘time out’ method worked for him, all I had to do was start counting, ‘That’s 1……” and that was it.
We very rarely got to 3.
And when we did, he was devastated.
I was too, but I tried not to show it and I knew that he needed to learn whatever lesson it was at the time in order to be a good kid.
We had been cruising along with the childhood thing for 10 years with things going pretty darn smoothly.
Nevertheless, I love being a mom to him and he’s always been an exceptional kid.
BUT…….this is where you hear the needle scratch the record……things changed when he was 10 years old!
Things Begin To Change When Your Tween is Around 9 or 10 Years Old
At the age of 10 my son would normally ride the bus home from school, but one day I had to pick him up as a car rider.
As I was sitting in my car waiting for him to come out of the school, I could see his sweet, cute face standing there waiting to be dismissed.
Even now, sometimes I still see that same exact face I saw when he was a little baby.
He ran out to the car, got in, buckled his seat belt and we were off.
I asked how school was and he gave me the obligatory response: ‘Good’.
Then I said in a voice that I used to use when he was much smaller, ‘I could see your cute little face through the window when you were waiting to get in the car! You’re JUST. SO. CUTE!’
You would’ve thought I just told him that I took a sledgehammer to his tablet or something.
He was so angry and said ‘Stop! That’s not funny!’ and then he imitated how I said it with a disgusted look on his face.
It took all I had in me not to start crying.
It caught me off-guard and I was crushed!
I was quiet the rest of the ride home.
By the time we pulled into the driveway, he said in a meek voice in the back seat ‘You can say that Mommy. I don’t mind.’
He obviously realized he hurt my feelings.
It took me a little while to snap out of my funk.
You’ll Begin To See the Signs – Parenting A Teen or Tween
This wasn’t my first exposure to my son transitioning from a ‘little kid’ to a ‘tween’.
It had been a few weeks that I could see a noticeable increase in disrespectful comments, misbehavior and push-backs from him.
Don’t get me wrong, things could be so much worse, but in the case of my always obedient, sweet son, this was new territory for me.
I honestly didn’t know how to handle it.
So I took it to Facebook to get some advice from my mom friends on parenting a teen, or in my case, a tween slowly turning into a teen.
The response I received was amazing.
Great Advice From Experienced Moms on Parenting a Teen (or A Tween morphing into a teen)
I wanted to share this invaluable advice with my readers because I know there are so many moms going through this right now.
We all need to know that we’re not alone and that there are tried and true ways of dealing with this new phase of childhood.
The Hormone Changes Begin Early – Parenting A Teen or Tween
It’s called puberty. And yes, it starts a lot earlier than you thought.
For boys it starts between the ages of 9 and 15 and for girls, it starts between the ages of 8 and 13.
Just because his voice hasn’t gotten lower and he hasn’t grown extra hairs in certain places, his body’s hormones are changing.
This not only affects his body, but also his personality.
He can become more sensitive, anxious, self-conscious, and irritated.
Know that this is normal.
Be Prepared for the Emotional Ups and Downs
First, know that you’re not alone.
Every parent goes through these phases with their children. Some more severe than others.
You’re trudging new territory when you’re beginning the phase of parenting a teen or tween.
Just know that it’s a journey.
Hence, there will be ebbs and flows.
There will be times that your little boy is back and wants to cuddle with you and have you read to him.
But then that ‘tween’ will come back at times as well.
Try your best to take the emotion out of it.
Ignore the eye rolling, the long sighs and the comments like ‘I’m bored’ and ‘Okaaaaaaaaay’.
Spot the diversionary tactics he uses to avoid doing what he needs to do and call him out on it.
Know that this too shall pass.
Don’t Lower Your Expectations – Parenting A Teen or Tween
Be sure that he is crystal clear on knowing what the rules are.
And then when he doesn’t follow the rules, know that he’s ruffling his feathers and testing his limits with you.
This is the time where he is testing you and it will set the tone for his teenage years.
When parenting a teen or tween you must:
- Stay the course
- Stick to your guns
- Don’t back down
- Be strong, even if he tells you you’re being mean
Be Consistent with Consequences
When parenting a teen or tween you need to let him know that actions warrant consequences.
Be specific with the actions that are unacceptable and the consequences that will take place.
Examples of consequences:
- Taking away screen time
- No social media (keeps drama to a minimum)
- Know his ‘currency’
- For my son, his ‘currency’ used to be Thomas the Train when he was a small child. That obviously wouldn’t work now.
- His ‘currency; now is his video games or having a friend over.
Ask him ‘How would you feel if……?’
Tell him how his behavior makes you feel.
Remind yourself that this is the first in many steps that will help him be the best adult he can be.
This will help him with how to handle life issues outside of the confines of the safe environment of his home once he goes out into the real world.
Provide Structure – Parenting A Teen or Tween
Believe it or not, children thrive on structure and even consequences.
Here’s an example: My son never finishes his packed lunch at school. He’s never been a big lunch eater and is very picky. He had been coming home from school with headaches and uneaten lunches. I finally told him that if he doesn’t eat his lunch, he loses a day of video games.
This worked for a couple of weeks. I recently pulled his lunch bag out of his backpack and saw that he hadn’t eaten his lunch again. Using the advice I received from my mom friends, I told myself that I have to stick with the consequences I set upon him. I told him that because he didn’t eat his lunch, he can’t play video games the following day.
Well, he didn’t even flinch. He just said ‘Okay’. The following morning I found him reading because he knew he couldn’t play video games. It was almost like he wanted to pay the consequences.
I truly believe that structure brings children comfort, knowing what is expected of them.
It also instills trust in them that you follow through with what you tell them.
Chores Provide Structure, Responsibility, & Independence
Chores are also a good way to provide structure, a sense of responsibility and foster independence, which is so important because you want him to be a productive adult.
Here’s a great age appropriate chore chart from Sports Mom Survival Guide:
Yeah, I know, cleaning toilets is going to be a tough sell, but hey, I had to do it when I was his age.
Don’t Try to be His Friend Until He Becomes An Adult
I like that nickname! The Enforcer!
That’s me! Mom, the Enforcer!
And you know what? Kids need that through every phase of childhood in order to prevent them from growing up into an entitled adult.
Of course they also need you as Mom the nurturer, the cook, the taxi, the shoulder to cry on, the audience for their jokes, the homework helper, the encourager, the shopper, the advice-giver, and their biggest fan!
Being a parent is a hugely important job, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in this entire world!
Parenting a teen or tween will challenge you, but I promise you and your teen will get through it and come out the other side better people for it!
Do you have any tween tips you’d like to share?
Please let us know in the comments.
We mommas need to stick together!
For more teen-centric posts, click on over to:
Frederick County Public Libraries: All You Need To Know (Lots of teen programs!)