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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Staying Connected to your TEEN

Teens are going through soooo much trying to find themselves and control their eMoTioNs that we as parents need to be there for them and STAY CONNECTED!!!

If you aren't there for them and don't have a good solid connection, they will find it somewhere else. They may have a hard time expressing themselves and may lash out, so as a parent, you cant take it personally. Staying connected is about building closeness in a relationship by being available and responsive to the other person. More then just spending time around each other, but with each other.

My Son turning TEEN, taking his buddies camping
Here are some tips to try to remember:

Be a sounding board rather then always giving them advice. Advice makes them feel that they cant figure stuff out on their own. They need to learn things on their own, but be a good listener so they can share their results with you. Give them your full attention and show them that they are the most important thing to you at that moment, rather then checking your phone, favorite blog ;) and so forth.

Eat together as a family!! TALK! Turn off the TV, PHONE, etc. BE together. We open conversation at the table by taking turns telling each other the High & Low parts of our day. It's great bc every person at the table gets their moment to talk and it really opens up insight into whats going on with them.

Stay connected with their friends!! If you want them hanging out at your house then you have to provide a warm and fun environment. Make sure to have FOOD!!!  Also, Stay connected with their friends parents. Ck in with a quick call or text once in awhile. My son isn't a huge talker so this is where I usually get most of my info.~friends and other parents! He always wonders how I know everything! lol I love it bc it opens up conversation with me having specific questions.

Let them have their own opinions. They will be moving out in a few short years and you aren't raising a mini me, you are raising an independent person and individual you can be proud of. Your job is to raise an adult not a child that cant think on their own.

When they tell you something in private, don't share it with anyone else, esp on Facebook!! They hate that and its def a deal breaker and they will stop sharing stuff with you. Need to maintain trust and respect.

Don't try to change the way they look. They are trying to find their identity and if your constantly telling them to get their hair out of their face, it makes them feel rejected, not confident. Unless they are smelly, def let them know!! he he

Go to their events, may it be a sporting event, music performance, school assembly. Show your support by being there, but try not to be a hoverer (its hard I KNOW!)

Try to connect with them EVERYDAY. Even if its only for 5 minutes after the younger siblings go to bed, or in the car ride home. Do something they enjoy, like shoot hoops, hiking, biking, or listen to their new favorite music. We like to wrestle, bc its fun, it makes us laugh and I can still show him that I am stronger then him (which wont be much longer!) If you create regular and routine opportunities for your child to open up, they will. They most likely wont just ask to talk about something that is bothering them.

They have alot going on in their heads and their hormones are going crazy, usually parents are not on the top of their list. So try to remind them why you should be on their list. Take them out to breakfast and just hang without any distractions. No pressure, just hang.

DON'T wait to stay CONNECTED!! If you wait 'til you notice that there is a problem without establishing a relationship, its will be really hard to get through to them.

As simple as it may sound, acknowledge them when they leave and come home. May it be just a hello or a hug, DO IT!! They say that married couples that hug when separating live longer. So why not your children!

Staying connected is important, it will help when your teen starts to have more freedom esp once they get their license! EK!! So you need to set parameters, guidelines and communicate with them. It is all out of love and for their safety. Don't fall into "everyone else is doing it" or "their parents let them". Both don't fly with me and it shouldn't with you!

See how they respond to situations that others have gone through. I always tell him a story I hear on the news, from childhood experiences or simply just make them up to see what he thinks about them. I tell stories about underage drinking, drugs, guns etc. and see how he responds then tell him my views on the subject. Letting them know how you feel and your opinions will stick with them.

A great way to get your child to open up to you on what they know in general about sex, drugs, etc to ask them!! When my son asks to watch a specific more mature movie and if I haven't already seen it, I look up info about it. I ask him to tell me what he already knows on the subject, then I decide if he is ready to watch it. If he doesn't tell me anything then he cant watch it, that simple.I don't want him to learn important subjects from actors even if he doesn't think its fair. I also ask him if there is anything that he may have heard from friends that he didn't know what it meant and I can clarify it for him. Don't make things off limits, allow them to ask anything.  I tell my son to do it when his younger siblings are not around.  My favorite thus far was, "what is a douche bag?" Don't be afraid to talk to them openly about subjects, they are going to learn it somewhere, better from YOU.

Set realistic expectations for them. If you don't set them, they wont meet them!

Help your teen reach THEIR goals. Let them be who they want to be in the world. This support will show them that you love them and respect them as young adults.

Don't be their friends, be their parent! They need someone to enforce the rules and consequences.

Most and foremost- believe in them! Show them unconditional love and know that they are not perfect and will make mistakes. Let them! They only learn by doing.

Kaden & Matty-Sparkly Polliwog offspring being silly
                   Don't forget that they are still KIDS! And they want to have a good time and be silly!! Be silly with them!!! I know that my son has only been a teenager for less then year, but so far so good. I am excited to see what the next few years will have in store for us. I plan on staying connected and keep building on our relationship. I know it wont always be easy, but whats the fun in life being boring?!! Everyday is an adventure and the bumps in the road are learning experiences on the road of being a parent! Loosen up and LIVE!!! You only have one life and chose to be connected with your child. Start today bc this day will never come again.

Love being a teen mom~Brandi

Heather's view on her pre-teen:

When Brandi first mentioned she wanted to do a blog about raising teens, I had mixed emotions. I could probably write a book about how to parent any other age up until 12. With my pre-teen I feel like I still have so much to learn.  When my oldest son started middle school I felt like I went from the BEST mom to the WORST mom in a matter of minutes!  Every day I would ask myself the same questions......What happened to my sweet, caring, loving son?  How does he know exactly what to say to push every one of my buttons and make me feel bad?  Why is he always so grouchy? How much does boarding school cost? :)

I started reading every book I could find on raising teenagers and I still felt like just a mediocre parent.  What makes a "GREAT" parent?  Are my parenting skills going to make or break him?  That's A LOT of pressure to put on yourself!  I was doing exactly what Brandi mentions not to do....... taking everything personal!  When he was grouchy I would feel responsible. I would go to my room on many nights and cry myself to sleep. I wasn't there for him when he was feeling bad and needed me because I was so caught up with my own emotions. Then I finally asked myself, "What is the one thing that I want for my son?" That was, surprisingly, the easiest question to answer....... happiness.  All the things that I thought really mattered... didn't. After seeing my son so unhappy in 6th grade, everything changed.  His good grades didn't seem so important.  I just wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to be able to look at a bad grade and not feel like a failure.  Not only was I putting very high standards on myself, but I was putting them on him also. I now tell my boys the story about Babe Ruth hitting the most home runs and getting the most strike outs in baseball history, all in the same year.  I will strike out as a parent sometimes, but I am going to try and enjoy every minute of it!
After I stopped stressing, I found many ways to enjoy the time with my pre-teen!

- We started a journal together.  I would write in it and leave it on his bed when I was done.  He could ask me anything he had questions about and I could stay connected to him without hovering. Make sure not to leave it out when friends come over!  

- We started reading a book called Just For Boys.  We would just read a page a night and then talk about it a little.  We both learned a lot and it was a great way to spend extra time with him at night.

                                             Just For Boys: A Book About Growing Up

- Instead of telling him, "Get off your iPod," I now tell him he has 5 or 10 minutes to be off.  It gives him time to finish what he is doing and shut it down without me yelling at him.  I am always telling my boys to treat people the way you want to be treated and I wouldn't like being in the middle of something and someone yelling at me to get off now.  It lets him know that I respect him as a person and that I'm not just here to tell him what to do.

- With three boys in the house its not always easy to get alone time with Dad.  My husband and I decided that our pre-teen needs some time to talk movies, new apps and video games alone with his dad.  One night a week they get to go out to dinner with each other. Of course he tries to get in some personal questions also, but he doesn't always get much of a response. :)

- My Father-in-Law was over and I was complaining about what a slob my son was.  He responded, "He's a boy! I would be worried if he wasn't a slob!"  I never thought about it like that!  He has too many important things he's thinking about to worry about towels on the ground, or dirty socks laying around.  I now pick them up and smile.  I talk to him at night and try and remind him to pick up his things but I don't make a big deal about it. If he does pick it up on his own, I make sure and tell him how much I appreciate his help.  I was a HUGE slob when I was a kid and now I spend EVERYDAY cleaning. 

- Sorry to say this moms, but as your boys get older, most won't want to hug and kiss you as much as they used to. :(  I told my pre-teen that I need at least two hugs and two kisses a day.  When he leaves for school, he always smiles and gives me a hug and a kiss.  He knows he doesn't have to do it in front of his friends and we have made it into a little joke.  I always say, "Have you filled your daily quota?" :)  I think now, more then ever, he needs to know how much I love him and this is a great way to tell him.  I also tell him, "I love you," EVERY chance I get! :)

- I started a chart for him so he can earn money at the end of each week if he finishes all of his responsibilities.  If he finishes everything for that week, he gets to double the amount of money!  I don't have to be on him all day with what needs to be done.  He can decide for himself what order to finish his chores in.  We don't allow electronics until everything is done.  The chart really gives him the space he and I both need.  Its hard to make sure 3 kids are getting all their things done.  I always make sure to let him know how responsible he is when he has finished everything for that day.

Each day I add a new chore.  After all the numbers are circled I sign for that day. 

- While reading a book called What Do You Really Want for Your Children?, I came across a wonderful way to handle your kids when they are being disrespectful.  I now just tell my son that I have too much respect for myself to listen to such talk.  I will not tolerate you talking to me in that manner, now or ever again.  Do we understand each other?  Then I go into another room or have him go to his room for some space.  I don't let his mood affect mine anymore.  It's wonderful!

                                                       What Do You Really Want for Your Children? By: Wayne W. Dyer

I still have plenty of days that I have to head to the library for some more parenting books, but I now look at my strikeouts as ways of learning to hit Home Runs!!!!

Don't sweat the small stuff.... its not worth your time! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxo


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