As my kids grow up, I am gaining interesting experience by and by with each day. Someone told me the new teen years are between 10 to 21 years old. I prefer to refer the years of 8-12 as tween years when the kid is not so much a child anymore, yet not exactly qualify as a teen.
As a FTWM, I only have weekends and holidays to spend good bonding times with my children. It doesn’t have to be outdoors and excessive treats to MacDonald’s or spending on entrance fees to qualify as good bonding time. Many of our good bonding times are quiet times spent at home, so I realized. With the kids’ homework increasing by the level, sometimes they may even ask if our weekend programmes can be shortened so that they can have enough time to finish their homework. The first time my girl requests for homework time, I was pretty shocked and reminded myself that I need to plan around their schedule and cut down blog events or be more selective in our weekend places to go. Kids are growing up fast. At this stage, they need more down time and private time to do their own stuff. That indoor playground or art museum may not be their thing anymore. I need to be sensitive to their growing up preferences.
I need a good LISTENING EAR
Recently, I am training myself to have a good listening ear to both the elder kids. It takes conscious effort because it is hard to focus on the sudden growing up questions or friends problems topics hurled my way when I am in the middle of minding little hands off the breakables, or supervising revision, or finding that toy for one child. I much prefer a come-sit-down-here-and-let’s-hear-your-problem kind of talk but it is hard to find quiet times in the evening to do this. And if I do put it off to a more appropriate time, the mood will be gone. The tween may not want to talk about it anymore and I would have wasted a good chance to give advice, educate or just lend a listening ear.
Creating atmosphere to talk
As the book Raising Boys by Stephen Biddulph mentioned that the best way to talk to boys about what goes on in their lives is to do house chores side by side, like washing dishes, or cooking. Boys usually do not like the “look you in the eye” kind of talk. It may work better to talk to each other while doing things together so as to avoid the dreaded eye contact with you and spare him the embarrassment. Similarly, I find doing craft work with my kid one to one, can sieve out lots of sharing on their innermost problems, thoughts, friends’ problems, and all the topics that you can possibly talk about.
Recently, I touched on the SEX topic with my girl, finally! I had wanted to broach on this topic for a long time. I want to teach her the right SEX education before anyone implants the wrong facts into her head. It was not an easy topic. But doing Hama Beads next to each other helps to avoid the eye contact embarrassment. It was more of MY embarrassment! My curious girl was quick to ask questions. I would say many of her friends might have known more than what she knew prior to this talk, but she certainly get more correct information from me than her peers who learnt about Sex from internet or friends. It will be good to teach from the parent’s perspective to set things right. If you have not talked about SEX with your tween, especially if he/she is older than 11 years old, it is about time.
What happens when your tween come to you with a problem?
Depending on how serious the problem is, I try not to get involved. Tweens are capable to learn to solve their own problems. However, they do not have the far-sight and knowledge and experience to know how to solve them. This is the best chance to share our experience and views. If the situation is serious, I may have to step in to alert the teacher and get the school’s involvement on a higher level. If the situation is suitable to be handled by my child, I will try not to be critical and quick to judge, but I will give advice, present pros and cons and leave the final decision to him/her.
Recently, an incident gave us a good chance to teach our tween.
My girl has been a little entrepreneur by selling her carefully hand-made crafts to her friends. We had encouraged her to do this as we think she is really good with her hands, and she deserves some recognition from people who like it enough to pay a token for it. Prior to starting this, we gave her some preparation on what she may face from friends. She may face price negotiations. She may face rejections. She may face refunds. I told her at the end of it all, it is important that this little entrepreneurship comes with fun. So, if there are less than expected responses, take them in her stride and understand that these are common and should not be viewed as a failure.
One day, after selling some pieces of the hand-made crafts and earning small money, she came home looking a little sad. While I was passing by her room, she told me that one of her friend’s mother objected to the purchase and asked her for a refund. I thought for a moment and asked her how she felt. She told me that she did not want to refund her friend. Her Papa heard it and told her that for many things that we buy, we are allowed refund if it is within 7 days of purchase. Later on, I told the hubby that our girl was upset because she had made the craft with her heart and this time round, she had even packaged it more beautifully than the rest with her new design. So she was more upset about the rejection than the loss of earnings. We then told her our views about this.
I said, “If I were you, I would want my carefully hand-made craft to land in the good hands of the owner who loves my craft. If your friend loves it very much, but not allowed to pay for it, you may return the money to her but let her keep it as a gift. You may also refund to her and keep your craft for someone who deserves it more. If you insist on not refunding back to her, the most likely outcome is that she may be scolded by her mum and your craft may either go down the rubbish chute or seen as an unhappy object. I wouldn’t want my carefully hand-made craft to end up in this fate. Think about this carefully and I leave the decision to you, my darling.”
After thinking about it for 2 days, my girl made the decision to refund her friend and take back her craft. I was secretly happy that she did this than the last option of refusing refund. I could also feel her heartache in this rejection. I thought to myself: There will be more to come in life. I am sure she will handle each of them bravely and handle them well.
Tweens at this age look up to their parents earnestly for advice. I need to constantly remind myself with every problem they bring up to me, I need to pay attention and never brush it aside or dismiss it as trivial. Some issues that may seem small to me may be affecting my child greatly. Besides, it is a perfect opportunity for me to preach good values, morals and instil in them the skill of tackling problems. I believe we are the best teachers for our children. Don’t you think so?
How do you talk to your Tween?