You ask your tween “What’s wrong”?” She looks down and away from you. Replies “Nothing.” You say “No, there’s definitely something. You can tell me about it. What’s going on?” She responds “Nothing! Why do you keep asking me about it?” before folding her arms and retreating to her room.
If you’re nodding along as you read this exchange, then congratulations! You’re probably parenting a tween too!
My husband and I have four children, but we are in the midst of parenting our very first-ever tween. And when I say that it is a learning experience, please believe that we are the ones getting the education.
I remember catching an attitude with my mother on a handful of occasions, but she was of a different generation. (The generation that hoped you would call the cops on them.) So her method of handling attitude problems was… different than the one we’re trying with our kids.
As a result, parenting tweens has been a brand new experience for my husband and me. After beating my head against a wall for weeks, we’re finally starting to see some improvement. Which is why I thought I’d share some things I’ve found that work when your tween shuts you out.
Having some issues with a younger child? Don’t miss these tips for how to show love to a defiant child!
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What to Do When Your Tween Shuts You Out
Don’t take it personally.
First, try not to take her attitude personally. She may direct the bulk of her attitude toward you, but a lot of times, you just happen to be nearby at the time. And worse – you’re actively trying to find out how she feels, which may not be a topic she wants to discuss.
I kept thinking “she’s doing this just to bother me” or “she just wants to see me get upset”, but that’s not really true. Very, very few kids are malicious toward their parents. They’re just a little self-centered, which is normal. Before you reach out, try to check your own emotions at the door.
Share their world.
Your tween has plenty on her mind – from schoolwork (a big one) to her favorite movies or songs to the opposite sex (which may be a new and unnerving interest). Try to take an active interest in what she likes, even if she doesn’t talk about it.
For example, if your child is listening to a song, ask about it in a positive way. “Who’s that by?” “That’s a great song. I like it! Does that artist have any other songs you like?” Please, please, please don’t say something like “What’s that junk? That doesn’t sound like music! We had real songs in my day!” Just don’t. If she’s open to sharing more, sit down and listen. If not, give it time and don’t push.
Which brings me to the third thing to remember when your tween shuts you out: be patient. Your tween needs a lot of time to process her feelings and thoughts. Pressuring her to talk about them right away can make her more confused and frustrated. Give her time to decide how she feels and what she wants to share and then be willing to listen to it all, no matter how strange, halting, or uncomfortable it sounds.
Once she starts to open up, be receptive to it all or she may retreat behind her wall of silence again. That’s the last thing we want.
How do you handle it when your tween shuts you out or tries the silent treatment? What do you do to let them know you’re still there for them? Share your expertise in the comments!
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