|SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center|
Connecting With Your Preteen
Staying connected as kids approach the teen years and become more independent may become a challenge for parents, but it's as important as ever — if not more so now.
While activities at school, new interests, and a growing social life become more important to growing kids, parents are still the anchors, providing love, guidance, and support.
And that connection provides a sense of security and helps build the resilience kids needs to roll with life's ups and downs.
What to Expect
Your preteen may act as if your guidance isn't welcome or needed, and even seem embarrassed by you at times. This is when kids start to confide more in peers and request their space and privacy — expect the bedroom door to be shut more often.
As difficult as it may be to swallow these changes, try not to take them personally. They're all signs of growing independence. You're going to have to loosen the ties and allow some growing room.
But you don't have to let go entirely. You're still a powerful influence — it's just that your preteen might be more responsive to the example you set rather than the instructions you give. So practice what you'd like to preach; just preach it a little less for now.
Modeling the qualities that you want your preteen to learn and practice — respectful communication, kindness, healthy eating, and fulfilling everyday responsibilities without complaining — makes it more likely that your son or daughter will comply.
What You Can Do
Small, simple things can reinforce connection. Make room in your schedule for special times, take advantage of the routines you already share, and show that you care.
Here are some tips:
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD