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Connecting with your Tween
I have an eleven year old son. We have always been close but now that he is getting older it seems like it is harder to get him to talk to me. He is always more interested in hanging out with friends, playing on the computer, playing video games, skateboarding, or watching tv. While this is understandable, I have found some ways to keep our connections alive.
1. Read together before he or she goes to bed. Luckily, my son doesn’t seem to think he is too old for this yet.
2. Use the time in the car to ask questions about his day or questions about his thoughts like: Do you think you will get married one day? Have kids? What do you want to be when you grow up?
3. Try to have dinner together every night. Spending those thirty minutes together every day adds up to 182.5 hours a year and 3,285 hours in the 18 years before your child will, most likely, leave home. Those 3,285 hours can be put to good use. At the dinner table at my house we play a game called High Low. Each person at the table takes a turn telling everyone the high point of their day and the low point of the day. You don’t have to have a low, but you have to find a high point in each day. This allows you to learn more about what is going on in your child’s day as well as how they are feeling about it. It also allows your child to learn about your adult life and how you handle your victories and struggles.
4. If your tween has a cell phone, text him or her just to say hi. Sometimes while I am at work, I just text to say hi and let him know I was wondering what he was doing and I wished I was hanging out with him.
5. Write notes and put them in his or her lunch box or book bag. Occasionally, I will write little inspirational or supportive notes and hide them in his lunch box or book bag so he finds them during school. Here are some examples of notes I have written:
You Rock! I just wanted to mention it!
Have a great day at school! Love you!
It’s Friday! We’re going to have lots of fun this weekend!
Guess what I’m thinking about? You!
I also like to pick up some small snacks like a rice krispie treat or popcorn and put them with the special note.
6. Play games together. My son loves Yahtzee and Sorry so we regularly play these games together.
7. Exercise together. Go to the YMCA and swim, run on the track, or play basketball. You child will get exercise and see you exercising. This will help establish a lifelong love of exercise and memories of fond times together.
8. Plan days for just the two of you. Plan a trip to the zoo, science center, or dinner out.
9. Leave a small present and a Miss You card when you go out of town without him or her.
Incorporating some of these activities will naturally allow for opportunities to talk and bring you and your tween closer together.