Disciplining a preteen — parents share what works

Disciplining a preteen — parents share what works


Monday, February 17, 2020

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“SOMETIMES I wonder if she hit puberty early, because suddenly it's like she just wants to have her own way with everything and is back talking everything I say,” shared Amanda, who is having trouble disciplining her 10-year-old.

Like many other parents whose children enter preadolescence, Amanda is finding out that “because I said so” is no longer a valid explanation for demanding that something is done a particular way, or at all.

“This is the stage where they are struggling for independence and control over their lives,” explains the Centre for Child Development. “This tendency for rebellion increases in children when they are in their pre-teen and teen years.”

These parents of pre-teens share how they are transitioning from disciplining playground tantrums to prepubescent rebellion.

Anecia, mother of a 12-year-old:

Many traditional parents may not agree with my methods because we were raised to think that asking questions is disrespectful, but I know what works with my child. His favourite line is 'Mommy, why?' so I always make sure I have an answer lined up for him. He will try to argue his way out of chores and curfews first, so I just make sure I know why I am establishing the rules before I try to enforce them. We still have moments where we disagree on a lot of things, but I give him a lot of freedom to learn things the hard way when he questions my methods.

Anna-Kay, mother of an 11-year-old:

I still give her a sort of time-out, but instead of it being punishment, it's really for both of us to just calm down. She cries for the simplest of things these days, even when she is wrong, and I think maybe she is going through some hormonal changes. But when all else fails I just take away the Internet.

Leighton, father of an 11-year-old:

I only talk one time. He knows better than to let me have to repeat myself. Because of that his mother only calls for me when she needs backup. The other day Mr Man decided to wash the plates and leave the pots in the sink because “dem hard fi wash”, so I just bought dinner for everybody else on the way home and let him watch us eat. From that he gladly washes the pots.

Marie, mother of a 12 and nine year old:

My older daughter just started high school and she start feel like she 'reach' so I just decided to treat her like an adult when she wants to behave like one. She has her set list of chores that she needs to do to 'earn' the things that she wants. The younger one is more obedient but she is following her older sister's example, so she has more free time but she has her chores too.

Tishawn, father of three:

When all my children were pre-teens I didn't need to abuse them or use force to control them. You just have to be smarter than them. They will come bright and early every morning for lunch money, so you use that to set up the system. The only money that is guaranteed every day is the fare to go to school. The rest is determined by your behaviour. You have a flat rate for lunch and snacks, but you get a little extra if you do well, and you get a deduction if you misbehave.

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