Kids transitioning from the fifth grade to the sixth grade can be a harsh smack of reality for parents and kids.
Kids are in transition from innocent children to the things of teens—thus the need for the tween category. Parents aren’t ready for the issues their kids bring home. I know I wasn’t either when my kids were that age. I thought it would pass in a couple of weeks. But no, once the tween years slide in your child’s life they aren’t going anywhere. They will morph into the teen years. The childhood years are sneaking out the backdoor.
This is not all bad. But we need to be ready. Here are some tips to prepare your child for the tween years:
Prepare, don’t hide. I believe parents need to protect their kids from what they are not capable of dealing with. However, we also need to teach them to deal with the temptations and issues that come into their lives. We need to teach them it’s wrong to cheat but not to label the friend who tempts them to cheat a cheater. We need to teach them that everyone does not have the same values and that’s why they say bad words. We need to let our kids know that not every child has a loving home and that’s why some kids are unkind.
Teach them what to do if. . . I’ve often heard first responders or military personnel explain how they handled a life-threatening emergency or rescue. They did what they trained thousands of hours to do. When the situation arose they knew what to do almost without thinking. Teach your kids what to do if someone tempts them to disobey the teacher, be unkind to another child, or lie to you. Then when the temptation comes they are ready. Information and preparation are our kids’ best defense against what the world will throw at them.
Stay calm and carry on. Yes, really. No matter what your child tells you, stay calm and carry on. Calmly listen without a hint of interrupting, then follow up with questions. “How do you think that will work?” “Have you thought about this or that?” And yes, while you will need to be the last word on most subjects, by staying calm you are setting the tone for your communication now and way into the future.
Don’t Overload Yourself with Parenting Advice. The abundance of information about parenting is overwhelming. Much of it is conflicting so what is a parent to do? Who do you believe? Find two or three advisors that have been-there-done-that and have the tee-shirt to show they did it well. Include someone in your life who can be available and a trusted author’s books or blog. Parenting is not about finding the right formula. It’s a constant process of adjusting what works for your family to achieve your goals for your kids. Please know it won’t always be pretty.
Limit and Chaperone Technology and Social Media. Teach your kids responsible social media use by modeling it (don’t be on it constantly). Next teach and enforce healthy guidelines:
Technology sleeps in the parents’ room, not the child’s room.
Know their passwords and check on their accounts daily.
Set and enforce rules for what’s appropriate and not appropriate.
Teach them social media and technology are privileges not rights. It is always the parents’ prerogative if and when the child uses social media.
I know it’s easy to believe your child will never make a decision you don’t agree with, but she will. The tween years will usher in ample opportunities for this. A little preparation for you and your child will make this season less stressful for both of you.