They can be temperamental and unpredictable -- one wrong move could set them off. Living with a preteen can sometimes feel like walking through a minefield. How can you keep the peace and still make sure that homework and chores get done? Here are 10 tips that can help.
1) Think ahead
One of our best tools as parents is being prepared. As your son or daughter gets to the middle-school years, get ready for at least occasional conflicts. Think through what's truly important to you. Is your youngster's hairstyle as important as homework? Isn't her curfew more of a concern than crabbiness? Obviously, dawdling is a lot easier to accept than drugs. As these give-and-take situations start, know ahead of time what areas you are and aren't willing to negotiate. (Top of Page)
2) Break down big chores into small parts.
Sometimes young people feel overwhelmed by tasks, especially those they've let go for a long time. A disastrous bedroom, twenty-three overdue math assignments, a long-term project that's "suddenly" due in a few days (or hours); such high-stress situations cause the preadolescent to give up rather than get started.
5) Be willing to listen, but don't poke or pry.
Kids this age value independence and often seem secretive. Keeping to themselves is part of the separateness they're trying to create. Let your child know you'd love to help him, but don't push him into a defensive position.
10) Don't use power unless it's urgent.
Parents have the ultimate power, and kids know it. We don't have to "prove" it to them at every turn. Save your strength for those really important issues you've decided are non-negotiable. Eventually kids are going to possess power of their own, and we want them to be able to use it wisely.
The tips quoted are from H.E.L.P. How to Enjoy Living with a Preadolescent and MORE H.E.L.P. These pamphlets are authored by Judith Baenen and published by the National Middle School Association.