Some days as I look at my preteen I can see who she will be as an adult. Other days my preteen more closely resembles a toddler in midst of a tantrum. With preteens there is no telling what attitude you will get from them and when. Parents of preteens: Hang on for the bumpy ride.
When my children were younger I would listen to friends with older children tell stories of their preteens and teens. I would tell myself that my preteen wouldn’t be loud or rude or disrepectful. The fact of the matter is that as children become preteens we have less and less control over their behavior. I spend what time I do have with my preteen ensuring that she behaves well. I spend far less time with my preteen than the time I spent with my babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school-aged children. During the school year I see my daughter before school and after school, and then through the evenings until bedtime with breaks for sports and activities. On the weekends I see her all day with breaks for birthday parties and sports games. In the summer I see more of her.
The preteen has many faces: the bad and the good.
The Bad Faces of the Preteen
Preteens employ the pouting face when things don’t go their way. Think toddler. Your preteen could be bothered by something major or something as trivial as getting an undesired sandwich for lunch. The best course of action is to ignore the pout.
Like toddlers preteens can show a preverbal side. If I ask too many questions I may get a grunt or groan in return. Sometimes I am bombarding my preteen for information on a test. Sometimes I am asking her to clean her room. As I said preteens are quirky and unpredictable.
The Eye Roll
I get this response from my preteen when my question to her is considered by her to be not worth answering with words. I consider the eye roll to be disrespectful. I will ask my question again or make my request a second time if I get the eye roll the first time.
The grimace occurs when I ask the preteen to do something that the preteen does not want to do: clean a bedroom, scrub a toilet, load the dishwasher. Again, ignore the grimace and have preteen do the assigned chore.
The Good Faces of the Preteen
The smile can light up a room. The smile says I understand what you are saying and I will do it. I have had conversations with my preteen where after hearing the tiredness in my voice she will offer to help her brother with his homework. On another occasion my preteen cleaned her room the first time I asked her. We both smiled at each other. I praised her for doing the job right on the first try. On these occasions I can see the adult my preteen will become.
The Eyebrow Raise
Often my preteen will observe her younger brother doing something wrong. She will raise her eyebrow at me. I will look at her and tell her that I am on top of the situation. Sometimes I will tell her a story about a time when she did the same thing. Preteens start to have a sense of what is going on in the world around them. Preteens are more than capable of helping around the house and yard.
After a long day of school and activities, my preteen and I will laugh with each other. My preteen is now at an age when she understands that Mommy is tired and cranky from the day. She laughs to lighten the mood.
So, having a preteen does has its ups and downs, but when you and your preteen are on the same page it is magical time.
Jill blogs at Writing My Life One Blog At A Time.