Parenting a teen takes a combination of heart, skill, knowledge and intuition. One of your main goals as parent of a tween should be to understand their influences and their inner workings and what emotional beliefs are starting to shape who they become for the rest of their lives. This is essential in order to be able to help guide them successfully, and to get along in the process. Here are some things you will want to know in order to be the best parent you can be to your growing tween.
They Are More Emotional
Teens more often use the part of their brain that controls emotions than the part that controls logic and reason. Tweens have also been shown to have a higher chance of misinterpreting facial expressions. This is a combination that can lead to great misunderstandings, and a resulting overflow of emotions.
Try to be gentle with your tween when it seems they are overreacting, as they may not be doing so intentionally. Just remember the emotions they are displaying are not a representation of the person, they are simply a momentary reaction based on fears.
They Are More Impulsive
Tweens are known to be impulsive. In one way, this is a good thing because sometimes as adults we overthink situations without ever taking action. But being impulsive can also lead to unnecessary confrontations, and feeling let down by the results of the actions they thought would bring positive changes to their lives.
Be a sounding board for your tween when they need someone to talk to as they navigate these various disappointments.
They Are More Risky
Tweens are prone to risk. Teenage boys are especially likely to engage in risky activities, but both genders engage in risk more than adults. With tweens, the frontal lobe of the brain is not as connected to the rest of the brain as it is later in life. Because it takes longer to make a decision, your teen may come to a conclusion that a risk is worth it before being able to consider all the facts.
Risk is something that can make our world a better place, as many inventions are created and brave acts taken because of the courage of youth. Teach your teen the balance between risk and safety. Talk to them about natural consequences, and educate them fully on the possibilities of their actions. Encourage them to take their time making decisions, as this will prevent a lot of undue risks being judged as safe before they have the time to truly consider every aspect.
They Are More Sensitive
Have you ever disagreed with your teen and seen them dissolve into a pile of tears? You can blame their age. The high degree of emotion felt at this stage in combination with their largely social nature can combine to cause a high intensity of sensitivity. If they are not allowed to go to the party they wanted to, it does not simply feel disappointing, but life-altering.
Explain to your child that it is normal to feel this deeply sensitive and refrain from judging them over it, because otherwise they may think there is something wrong with them.
Your teen undergoes many changes as they grow and mature. Take every opportunity to validate your child’s feelings and emotions, because this will help them understand that the teen years are a time of much change, and that it is ok to feel and act the way they do. With a strong sense of support, your teen’s adolescence can be a mainly positive experience, and lay a firm foundation for the rest of their life.