Tips for Talking to Your Pre-teen or Teen
Opening up Communication
Always be honest when you answer their questions. They may not like the answers, but they need to know they can count on you. Let them know you are willing to listen, even if you don’t like what you are hearing. Then let them know without yelling or threats what it is that bothers you.
It is important to know who your child is hanging out with. Make sure you meet their friends and know something about them. Also be sure that your child knows you are interested in their friends, and that you will be talking to their parents. Even better get to know the other child’s parents. That doubles the diligence watching over your child.
If your child is in a sport or other extra curricular activity be sure that you are attending the events. Your support means everything. Also be sure you know when practice is and when it is over.
Has your child just started middle school, be sure you know the school rules and consequences. Get to know your child’s teachers. Attend parent conferences and come with questions. If you have questions before conference time, send a note to the teacher or make a phone call. With the Internet, most teachers have a school e-mail you can get to them very quickly that way. Be visible in the school. Volunteer if your schedule permits.
Watch for changes in your child’s behavior and get to the cause as soon as you can. Ask your child about the things that are being taught at school. It’s different than when you were a child. Also watch for changes in eating habits. Has your daughter become obsessed with her weight? Even if she is thin as a rail, she might view herself as fat. Has your child become withdrawn? That is a sure sign something is not right.
It’s important to stay involved. This is the age when peer pressure really hits. Your child may know your rules and values but if you are too busy or just not around, they may start following the crowd. If you are visible and truly interested in your child, your child will know that. It is important to talk to your child and know what’s going on. If you keep talking, your child will listen….even though they want you to think they know everything.
Most schools offer a sex education class in sixth or seventh grade. Make sure your child attends and ask them what they are discussing. Know the school’s program ahead of time. They will make the curriculum available for you. Your child might feel uncomfortable during this class. Help them over the issues bothering them. Don’t run from the hard question. Answer them even if they make you uncomfortable. Your child is asking for guidance, give it.
The middle school years are the hardest. This is where kids form the bonds that will carry them through high school. You want them making the best choices. They will need help, they won’t always ask for it, but they need to know you are in their corner when they do ask.