Disrespectful tween? This simple, non-discipline approach will help end conflict with your tween AND bring you closer!
I could feel heat creeping up the back of my neck. I took a deep breath to calm myself.
You know those days when your tween is trying to push your buttons and get a reaction? Well, it was one of those days for me.
This moment could have gone a number of ways, but I chose the path that ended with us hugging and laughing.
This was such a breakthrough moment that I wanted to share the secret I learned about ending conflict with your tween — instantly.
Remember What it Was Like?
Do you remember those junior high years? Yea…I try not to remember them either!
I don’t think that transition from kid to teenager is easy for anybody! You’re a mess of hormones, school is harder, kids can be mean, and sometimes it feels like the world is against you.
So of course you take it out on your family!
The first thing I do before I even approach my now-teenager is to take a deep breath and remember that this is not an easy time for her.
It helps me to take that moment to make sure that I am as calm as possible. Because a disrespectful tween or teen can be SOOOO frustrating! Real talk!
So What Had Happened Was…
I’m not a yeller, and I’m not an angry person. But I’m human, and I do get upset with my kids sometimes, especially when it seems like that’s what they’re trying to accomplish.
I can’t remember exactly what my oldest daughter had said, but here we were in her room. She was sitting on the bed and I was standing in the doorway, explaining why what she had done was not ok.
And then she rolled her eyes.
In that instant, my first instinct was to feel anger. That’s a natural reaction when you’re shown disrespect by another person, and that’s ok. But the key is not to let anger cloud our judgement and get in the way of finding a positive solution.
I’m sure my daughter expected me to get upset with the eye rolls. She might have even thrown some exaggerated sighs in for extra effect.
But instead giving in to anger and taking her actions at face value, I thought to myself what must be bothering her to cause her to act out in this way?
The Secret to Ending Conflict with Your Tween – Instantly
Figuring out the answer to that question is easier than you might think…. Ask.
Ask your tween why they are upset.
Be mindful not say something that will appear confrontational, like: “Hey, what’s your problem?” That will accomplish the opposite of what we want, and your tween will likely get defensive or simply not talk.
I have found it much more effective to show empathy with my question: “I can see that something must be worrying you for you to act in a way that’s out of character. Would you like to tell me what’s upset you?”
When you make it known that you are concerned about their feelings (even when they’ve been “bad”), you’ll be much more likely to get a sincere answer.
And then listen.
It turns out that my oldest daughter had been worrying that her baby sister was getting more attention, and that perhaps we all loved her younger sister more. Of course that couldn’t be farther from the truth, but this is a universal fear among siblings, especially when there is a new baby.
In this simple exchange, before we had even reached a resolution, I could see my daughter’s “attitude” vanish and I could feel my own anger melt away. With one simple question and answer, we had both pushed aside the emotions that were blocking the real issue.
Now we were in a place where we could talk about what was on my daughter’s mind and she could get the reassurance that was really all she had wanted in the first place.
It’s also important to keep in mind that acting out at home can be a sign of a bigger problem, such as bullying.
You Can Show them a Better Way
It’s frustrating when your tween acts out or is disrespectful. However, we have to remember that even though they are testing out grown-up emotions and actions, they are still children at heart.
Our children don’t always know the most effective way to get the help that they are looking for, so it is on us as the adults to guide them. It is up to us to teach them empathy, respect, and what healthy relationships look like.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to “be your kid’s best friend” and let bad behavior slide! But sometimes when you take the time to talk and actually listen to them, your kids will show you that they actually don’t want to act that way at all…they just didn’t know what else to do.
The next time you find yourself facing off with your tween, remember that they are trying to get your attention in the only way they know how.
Show them a better way.
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Kelly is a friend and colleague whose work has changed the lives of countless families. Her new e-book shares the recipe to:
- Stop feeling overwhelmed. Get a handle on the swirling chaos of to-do items and appointments and “should”s in your head.
- Set yourself up for a happy day, every day. Find out the ingredients you need in your day in order to become your happiest self.
- Catch yourself before you lose your cool. Learn what to do when you lose your patience with a temper-taming toolkit of proven tools to get you back on track.
- Heal after the storm. For the days when you do lose your cool, you’ll get the exact steps to flush the bad mojo from your body and repair the relationship with your child (or your partner).
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