Sometimes it might feel like your tween speaks a completely different language, one that you'll never quite understand. However, there are ways to get past that wall and engage in an open, honest conversation with your kid -- or at least in a way that won't end with stomping feet and slammed bedroom doors.
- Listen actively: Like we said on the previous page, nobody likes to be interrupted. Listen to your child when he or she talks -- really listen. This means turning off the TV, putting down the ironing and closing your e-mail. Tweens need to know that their thoughts are important enough for you to pay full attention.
- Create opportunities to communicate: Don't formally schedule talks, but use different opportunities to start talking. Some kids like to talk in the car, while you drive them to school. Or, each night at dinner, have everyone go around the table and talk about the best and worst parts of their days.
- Acknowledge your tween's point of view: Sometimes your child isn't coming to you for advice -- he or she may just be looking for your approval on the way the situation was handled. You can say things like, "Wow, that must have been a really tough decision," or "I think you did the right thing," to help boost your child's self-esteem in decision-making skills.
- Be patient and don't overreact: Not every discussion you have with your tween is going to end well. Your tween may have done something you don't agree with. Still, let your child have her or his say. Listen to the entire story before casting your final opinion. Stand firm on what you believe is appropriate behavior, but instead of yelling or getting worked up, ask questions like, "What do you think about what you did?" You don't want your child to feel anxious or prematurely judged. Make sure you reward his or her openness, or your tween may start keeping secrets.
Good communication with your tween is a great investment in the future of your relationship. Teaching him or her to be open and honest sets the stage for future communication when your child is a teen, and even an adult.
For more about tweens and family, check out the links on the next page.