The makings of a positive friendship

CHILDREN | 11 APR 2019


These are our children between the ages of 9-13. They are not quite a teenager, and not a child anymore. Your once adorable, cuddly, little child, who loved a kiss and a cuddle, suddenly woke up one morning and is different.

They are still wonderful and funny, but … there is an eye roll, talking has becoming grunting, they often smell, and prefer the company of the I- phone to yourself. You wonder as a parent “Was it something I did?”, “What happened to my happy easy going child?”

Early Adolescence happened – or the Tween years. It is simple and as complicated as that. The good news – they do eventually become humans again, out the other side with normal conversations and emotions. The more challenging news: You are on a rollercoaster ride of hormones and emotions for probably another 5-6 years. Girl’s brains will fully develop around 23-25 years of age and boys about 28 years.

The important news is that the tween years are really important in their development as social and emotional adults, and they are the only ones who can do it, with you as parents, their guides and helpers.

Dr Arne Rubenstein believes there are 5 essential things we need to teach our tween so our boys become good men, and our girls become strong women.

They are:

  1. Resilience- bounce back when things are difficult
  2. Problem Solving- learn how to solve problems creatively on their own and when to ask for help
  3. Collaboration- with peers and adults
  4. Privileges and Responsibility- Privileges are not necessarily rights. Having a phone is a privilege not
    a right
  5. Acquire high Emotional (EQ) and Social Intelligence (SQ)- One of the biggest predictors in adult
    success both in professional and personal is high EQ and SQ.

In addition, I will add another, Compassion: how they see others and the world around them.

We as parents particularly during this period have to learn to let go- let them have space, to take risks in a safe way, allow them to fall, make mistakes, have consequences, and not rescue them all the time.

Help them to come up with solutions to problems by guiding, but not telling or controlling.

Teach them negotiation skills; do not always tell them they have to do it your way.

Help them to see from the others person’s perspective; How does your friend feel when this happened? What do you think they need now/ Do you think maybe they were having a bad day?

Spend time with them, laugh, cry, LISTEN, and drop everything and be there. Stay open and considered before jumping in to correct or discipline, hug your tween and love the stage they are in, because although it is tough, there are always beautiful moments as well – we just need to look and listen to find them.

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