Dealing with pre-teen angst

By PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, October 08, 2018

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DURING childhood you and your children may have been inseparable, but as they approach adolescence you begin to notice that between their raging hormones and what seems to be an extensive process of rewiring occurring in their brains, your children are almost unrecognisable. They talk back, they pull off violent tantrums, break rules, try to justify rude behaviour, overdramatise, and are self-centred, characteristics which guidance counsellor Monique Minto acknowledges often results in more parents than are willing to admit disliking their children.

“Parenting is difficult and the truth is, no two children are the same. You may raise a child who manages the teen years and their process of discovering themselves and exploring their independence well, or you get a child who is the complete opposite — one who is spiteful and rebellious. But your role as a parent does not change and even if you dislike your child's actions you must always remember that the child needs you,” Minto reasoned.

Minto pointed out that when you realise that you're succumbing to resentful thoughts, and if you have the best interest of your child at heart, then the first step to dealing with the matter is admitting it to yourself that you can work through it. She also shares tips on other ways that you can deal with your child as he/she transitions through this rebellious phase.

Acknowledge that you dislike the child

You are encouraged to take a moment to identify the reasons you're feeling resentful so you can work on it with your child. So whether it is because of the way they act now, their disregard for you and the rules you have in place, or their selfish nature, knowing the specific reason/s is important. The next step is recognising that it's the traits and behaviour that you don't like, not the person; this makes managing the problem easier.

Your child always needs you regardless of what they say

As your child approaches adolescence they will grasp at many things, but a key to their identity and certainly to their self-development is independence. When children feel that they are independent they believe that they do not need the guidance of parents; in fact, they will even go as far as to embarrass their parents when guidance is being offered because they now have a new system where their peers give them the kind of advice that they believe they require as teenagers and that they believe is best for them. Guide them anyway.

Set boundaries

If you want to save your out-of-control, rebellious pre-teen, one way to achieve this is by setting boundaries. On the surface, this sounds like the very thing these teenagers are trying to get away from, but when deciding on these boundaries you will consider safe boundaries that will still allow them to explore their environment. You should also discuss the boundaries with them, why they are important, and the consequences of crossing these boundaries.

Keep the lines of communication open

This is perhaps the most important element necessary to deal with the issue. Many parents make the mistake of being too hard to access, or being so rigid and serious that children generally stay away or confide in others. You want to always make sure that your teen will feel comfortable talking to you as it will also help you to understand what is going on with the child so that you can help them.

Find out what is contributing to your child's behaviour

If your child suddenly becomes a rebel, while hormones may be a contributing factor, find out if there are other elements, for example, the actions of a family member, unresolved family issues, or if you make the child believe they do not fit in, for example. Acting out may be your child's way of telling you that they want the contributing issues to be addressed.

Don't criticise the child

We're all guilty of it — the first thing that we do when a child is acting out of character is to criticise and try to 'fix' them. Instead of criticising try to understand the child and the reason they do the things that they do. Listen to their reasons and work on identifying a middle ground that you can work with them from instead of making things about you and what you think is best.

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