Preteens and Communication

Preteens and Communication 

Encouraging Collaboration with your Preteen

As your preteen edges closer to independence, it's time to shift the dynamics at home from a dictatorship to a democracy. Recognize that holding them to strict restrictions becomes challenging when they step outside the home. During high school, consider lengthening the leash, allowing them to practice freedom, navigate failures, and learn to approach you for guidance.

Coaching Through Communication:

Engage in open conversations by reflecting their nonverbal cues. For instance, saying, "I hear that you don't like discussing your homework when you cross your arms and glare. Is that accurate?" This approach helps them recognize their communication patterns, fostering understanding rather than correction. While they are responsible for themselves, you play a crucial role in coaching and training their developing minds. For a comprehensive guide on effective communication, explore "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish (1980).

Utilizing Tools for Mutual Agreements:

Transitioning from a dictatorship to mutual agreements involves practical tools. Visual problem-solving techniques, such as listing possible options and creatively considering solutions, followed by taking turns eliminating them, can be effective. Conducting family meetings to discuss successes and areas needing improvement provides a platform for non-urgent, less emotional discussions. Linking your preteen's demonstration of responsibility to increased freedom can be achieved by reframing your responses. Instead of an outright "No," try "Yes, when..." For example, "Yes, when your grades stay above Cs for a quarter, you can play video games on weeknights."

Being on the Same Team:

Avoid positioning yourself against your preteen; instead, work as a team. Your goal is for them to exhibit responsible behavior while enjoying every possible freedom. Recognize the compartmentalized nature of their teenage brain and assist in linking responsibility to rewards. Verbalize these connections, be firm in implementing orders and prerequisites, and help their brain establish healthy links between compartments, minimizing impulsive behavior and entitlement.