“It’s nothing.” The two words that every mother of a preteen has heard at least once. You know something is bothering them, but they have for one reason or another has decided to cloud over and shut down. Whether its something you “Just don’t understand” or they feel embarrassed to discuss with you, as a parent we worry about what is indeed nothing and what could be something more significant.
The relationship between a child and a preteen can have its rocky roads. From emotional highs and lows to peer pressure and self-confidence issues parents of preteens have their hands full. However, if we keep the path of communication open it not only gives your child an adult perspective to their problems as well as a stronger bond between with them as a parent.
Take time to spend time with your preteen- alone. One on one time is essential when things can be stressful or confusing during this time. Taking your child out to dinner and a movie, roller skating, mini golf etc. will give you the much-needed bonding time so that they have the opportunity to open up to you. It lets them know that you care and time with them is important to you. Plus a little mommy and me fun never hurts!
Not having to engage in eye contact can be a relief when asking embarrassing questions or talking about difficult situations. At first, your child may think its weird to lay side by side on the floor together. Once they realize the nonconfrontational aspect to floor time it can be a game changer in discussions. My daughter now asks openly for floor time when she needs to talk to me.
A white ceiling keeps us both focused on what we are discussing and free of life’s distractions. They will know that they have your undivided attention and you can keep your perspective and not having to worry about an occasional eye roll. If they are able to just talk without scrutiny and eye contact even the most closed off preteen can open up.
Finding a common interest, you can do together cannot only create lasting memories together but it also helps open the lines of communication as well. Crafting, playing video games together, gardening, working out together, etc., can keep each other relatable to one another. You can find some fun ideas in my article 25 Ways to Connect with Your Child. During these times the walls of defense will lower because you are in a relaxed environment. Enjoying time together will take the pressure off both your backs and the stresses of the preteen years will be on the backburner.
Listening not Critiquing
This one is a tough one for me personally. Sometimes all preteens want you to do is listen. Let them have the opportunity to vent off the frustrations and drama of the day. A lot of times all they want is a sounding board and someone to care about what they’re going through. Giving them solutions (even if the solution is pretty easy) can shut down communication. Ask them if they want your advice- don’t just give it to them. That way they know you are respecting their feelings and letting them tell you how they want to proceed with what they told you.
As parents, we know part of our job description is therapists. What may seem trivial can be big in a preteens world. Emotions and changes can be tough. Letting them know you are there to help and listen can make the world of a difference.