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Parenting Hacks: 12 Essential Tips for Parents of School-Age Children

Parenting Hacks: 12 Essential Tips for Parents of School-Age Children

Babies.

Toddlers.

Teenagers.

All of these age groups seem to have entire websites dedicated to the challenges of parenting.

But what about the group that’s missing?

The school age children.

Ah, you might say that is the easy age. but there is really no such thing as an “easy” stage of parenting. It’s just a new set of challenges, and rearing school age children has its own set of challenges. In fact, if you face the trials and tribulations well now, you may actually reduce the ones to come in the teen years, and parents can always use a break when they can get one.

1. Read Aloud Every Day

One of the absolute best things you can do for your child and his success in school is to read out loud together every day (or almost every day). There are a few great things about this.

The first is that reading together at bedtime helps transition a busy day full of activities and screen time into a quiet, peaceful time. The second is that by having your child read aloud to you, you can gauge his abilities, build up reading stamina, and enjoy an activity together.

When you take a turn reading to your child, you can help them with their comprehension when you stop and recap together or ask him to remind you what you read the day before. Finally, reading aloud together gives you a chance to introduce your child to new books and you can use that material as a jumping off point for the more in depth discussions that start happening at this age which aren’t always comfortable for parents or kids.

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2. Find Quiet Time Together

An added benefit of the reading together, especially at bedtime, is that you have a built-in quiet time together during the day with your child. The school years are busy years and we fall into routines where we talk to our kids and move from one place to another without every stopping to really have discussions about the things that are on our kids’ minds.

It’s not to say that you need to have a therapy time every afternoon or play Twenty Questions before bed, but taking a few minutes after reading stories to “check in” with your kid in the evening is an excellent way to be sure your child has a chance to talk and you take a turn to listen.

Other options for that quiet time may be a walk together in the evening or even driving from one event to another. If you’re taking your child home after a sporting or school event, for example, turn off the radio and take the longer route to get home. Sitting in the car is an excellent time to ask some questions and have a quality conversation with your child.

3. Model Reading and Writing

If you’re counting on the school to cover all the bases for your child in his reading and writing instruction, your child will be missing a critical part of instruction. Your child’s teacher is likely doing an excellent job teaching your child how to write and how to read.

Your job as a parent is twofold. First, you should be reinforcing what your child is doing at school. This lets your child show off his new abilities and gives you a chance to check his progress and assess his abilities. Second, your job as a parent is to show your child just how important that reading and writing stuff is.

How? By reading and writing yourself. Your child should see you reading. A lot. Your child should watch you write. This shows your child that reading and writing really is important – not just something he’s forced to do at school.

If you read for pleasure in front of your child, he’ll get the message loud and clear that reading is a good thing. Likewise you can show him the importance of writing as you send emails, write lists, write in a travel journal or update your summer diary together.

This is an excellent way to use those phones and tablets as well. There is no rule that writing has to be done with pen and paper, and reading doesn’t require paperbacks. Show your child how to read and write on his device, but keep an eye on him with software like OurPact parental control to be sure he’s following through on the expectations.

4. Explain Behaviors

    Your child has many pathways to learning. He can listen. He can write. He can read. He can touch. He can taste. He can experience. How many of those pathways are you using when you’re trying to get your child to learn and do something?

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    For example, if you are asking your child to put his dishes in the dishwasher, you can tell him to do it, but that may not be enough. Your child has heard you. But then show him how to load the dishwasher properly. Explain to him where the water comes from and why the bowls and plates need to face a certain way. Explain why the knives are pointed down and let him see you put your dishes in before he puts his own away.

    Granted he will probably need reminding well into his teens to take care of chores like loading the dishwasher, but if you think about explaining things and engaging as many learning pathways as possible with everything you consider important, your child will be much more likely to understand and follow your lead. Telling him once just isn’t enough for any lesson to really sink in, especially something he doesn’t understand.

    5. Set Realistic Limits

    Behavior. Punishments. This is the stickiest wicket of parenting because every child needs discipline and every child craves limits. Children generally want to please adults, and the best way to do this is by behaving appropriately. This means your child needs limits and rules, preferably before he crosses a line.

    That being said, if you’re going to make a rule in your house, be sure it is a realistic one and one you can enforce. For example, telling a child that he can’t stay up past 8pm on a weeknight is fine. It’s fine, that is, unless that same child has baseball practice until 8pm three nights a week. How is he going to bed by 8 if he’s not even home? By giving your child a rule he can’t follow, you’ve set the both of you up for failure and frustrating. Think through the rules and limits ahead of time to prevent this. This also gives you a chance to prioritize and choose your battles.

    6. Offer Praise, Limit Criticism

    Nobody likes to be criticized. Sometimes it can’t be helped in the learning process, but as often as you can focus on the things you can praise as a way to correct behaviors rather than criticizing those things you don’t like.

    What does this look like? It might be something as simple as praising your child when you see him holding a dirty shirt. Sure, he might have just taken it off and was about to drop it on the floor, but rather than shouting at him to “put that shirt in the hamper right now!” praise him instead for not dropping it on the floor. “I’m so glad you’re not going to drop that on the floor – thank you for putting in the hamper!”

    7. Always Be Consistent

    Just like the limits above, do your absolute best to be consistent at all times in all things. Does this sound daunting? Sure. But it’s actually easier than you might think. What wears us out as parents is making decisions all day long.

    Mom! Can I have this? Can I do that? Can I stay up later?

    Instead of making a decision about every little thing during the day, plan ahead and stick to the plan. Make bedtime the same time every night. Make the evening routines the same every night before bed. Put all electronics on the charger in the kitchen.

    These are not rules, per say, simply routines and consistencies in place that make your life a bit easier and give your family some structure they can understand as they go through the day.

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    8. Explain Expectations Ahead of Time

      This is a big trick that you’ll see elementary teachers use in the classroom. Assume that your children don’t know how to behave in a new situation. You’ll have to explain exactly what behaviors are appropriate and which are not.

      This is far better than doing what we accidentally do all of the time and fuss at our kids for not behaving the way we want them to… when we’ve never told them what to expect!

      Think about going on a family adventure to a carnival. What are the expectations you have for the carnival? Your child will need to stay with you. Or maybe hold your hand. Your child will need to wear comfortable shoes and carry his own bag – you’re not going to carry it for him. Your child will have a set number of tickets for fun and that’s all he has, so spend them wisely.

      Now think of the expectations you’d have if you went to a museum or to the theater. It’s a whole new adventure with a brand new set of expectations. Children are not mind readers, obviously, and they aren’t always very good at picking up on subtle clues. Just because everyone else is whispering doesn’t mean they will unless you tell them calmly (preferably ahead of time) that whispering is what everyone does in an art museum.

      9. Prepare Children for Transitions

      Another great teaching trick you can use at home is preparing your child for a transition. Think about a day in elementary school. Your child goes from his desk to the rug for circle time to stations to the library to the gym to lunch and back again. At school this process seems to go so smoothly for an experienced teacher.

      Yet when your child is at home and you tell him it’s time to go from one place to the other he throws a fit. Or refuses. Or begs and pleads. Or even runs the other direction. What those savvy elementary school teachers know that many parents do not is that you not only need to tell your child your expectations (how else would they know to walk in those nice quiet lines at school?) but also the teacher prepares the students for transition ahead of time.

      Children do not change gears instantly. They are usually pretty intent on doing what they are doing, especially if it is fun. When you tell them it’s time to go right now, it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid and your child reacts dramatically.

      Instead, give your child a head’s up along with some information about what’s coming next. This allows for processing time and eases the transition.

      This might sound like a notice to your child that he “only has five more minutes to play and then we need to head to the grocery store before heading home”. You might even give him a visual cue like, “When the clock says 3:45 we’re going to head to the store. That gives you five more minutes to play here before we leave”.

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      10. Judge The Action, Not The Child

      A practice we should all have is to never judge your child. Judge his actions. Telling your child he’s “a bad kid” or that he’s “a terrible reader” is going to destroy his confidence and give him some negative voices in his mind to overcome as he tries to grow up and be successful.

      Even if you are beyond frustrated with your child, don’t tell him he’s “bad.” Tell him instead that you are extremely disappointed in his “bad behavior.” You can fuss at him about the choices he is making because he can always make better choices. Fussing at him because he’s “an idiot” or “a rotten kid” isn’t going to help anything. It’s going to make your problems much worse down the road.

      11. Focus on Sleep Patterns

      If you could only fix one thing in your child’s life, fix his sleeping behaviors. Children in elementary school need up to twelve hours of sleep every night. At an absolute minimum your school age child should be getting nine or ten hours of sleep every night.

      This means putting your child to bed early enough that he can get all of the sleep he needs before it’s time to get up and prepare for school in the morning. This may mean cutting some of his evening activities or starting homework earlier in the day.

      It’s important to realize that your child needs about ten hours of sleep every night. That doesn’t mean he should be in bed for ten hours. He should be asleep for that long. That will probably mean starting showers even earlier and doing any reading earlier in the evening. Electronics should leave the bedroom early enough that your child can wind down and sleep. Screens actually make it harder to fall into a good sleep, so watching television or staring a phone can make sleeping harder, not easier. Getting enough sleep every night can fix a host of issues for your child. A lack of sleep has been linked to poor grades, poor attention spans, behavior issues and even poor eating habits.

      If you make a good night’s sleep a priority every night, you can set up all other routines and expectations that connect to bedtime easily as well.

      12. Plan for Future Concerns

        Think about what can do the most damage to your child when he’s a teen. Drugs, alcohol, poor driving, sleep deprivation, surly attitudes and more all haunt parents of younger children because we just don’t know what to expect, and there is no magical way to see into the future, but you can plan now for what you expect to happen in the future.

        For example, if your child takes his phone or tablet to bed every night to play a bit before going to sleep it may not be a big issue now. But it can be a huge issue very soon. Phones are one of the things that keep teens up during the night and interrupt that important sleep cycle. Even if it seems harsh now, consider a ban on phones from bedrooms after a certain time.

        Turn off all televisions and electronics at a set time of day. Set a curfew before your child needs one. Make reading a part of the daily routine. Start a routine now for chores and household duties. Elementary school children are a bit more malleable and certainly tend to be better natured about things than teenagers who are looking to be independent.

        Choose your battles now and fight them with an eight year old at the present time. Then, once the battle is won, you can simply continue the expectation for the next ten years under the guise of routine and “that’s how it’s always been around here!”

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        Published on April 4, 2019

        How to Enjoy Parenting Teens and Help Your Kids Thrive

        How to Enjoy Parenting Teens and Help Your Kids Thrive

        This article is here because my daughter’s friend said “Your mum’s cool. She’s a great parent.” It led to us asking what makes a good parent of teens?

        My children are 18 and 15 and I don’t think I get it right all the time. However, having asked on social media, I think I get an easy ride. So from my daughter’s point of view, coaching and mine, here’s how to get the best out of teen years for you and your teenagers.

        1. Know How They Wind You up

        Teens know how to hit every annoy parent button going. Work out what triggers you and work on yourself before you engage with them.

        As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t talk to a colleague at work like it, then don’t speak to your child like it. Your aim is to help them become successful adults and that’s a process that should start from birth – even as young children, you want them to be able to communicate effectively to get what they want, be strong minded, confident and capable in the big wide world.

        So you need to be their role model. And that’s not easy when they are hitting your buttons.

        Find yours and desensitise yourself to them. (For me, I can internally laugh and think “What must I have sounded like to my Mum at this age?” And that diffuses any frustration.

        2. Understand Why They Grunt

        Maybe you wonder, “Why do they grunt – they communicated better when they were 7!”

        Teens are learning to be who they are (and there’s plenty of adults who still don’t know!) So don’t expect them to behave the same as they did when they were little and cute.

        If you get grunts and groans at suggestions of things to do, it’s not them saying “That’s the worse idea ever;” that’s them questioning “Is it okay to be me? To do this? To live like this? To want this?” They are questioning:

        • Where do I fit in the world?
        • What do I want to do?
        • What should I train to be?
        • Will I have to move town?
        • How will I cope?

        Many questions that any adult would find daunting, and when you know the science that their brains do not finish growing until they are in their 20’s, you can see why you might have days where you have the equivalent of a Teen Zombie on your hands.

        Ask yourself if you could cope with your job, family life, friends, chores and still find the brain space to answer the big life questions.

        According to research by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore whose research lab is based at UCL in London,[1]

        “The answer is this: the prefrontal cortex, which regulates emotional responses and inhibits risk-taking, is going through physiological changes that make some adolescents act in such seemingly incomprehensible ways.”

        When you consider the prefrontal cortex functions in cognitive control (planning, attention, problem solving, error monitoring, decision making, social cognitive and working memory) you can start to see why they forget to empty the dishwasher or behaved as they did. It really is not their fault!

        3. Deal with Your Own Feelings

        They are growing up and inevitably they are going to leave home. While many cheer there’s still that sinking empty nest feeling that can have many negative connotations:

        • “I wish they would appreciate me.”
        • “They don’t know how easy they’ve got it.” Etc etc.

        Ultimately it can lead us to question:

        What’s my role? Where will I fit in their future? (Or even – will I?)

        Don’t get ahead of yourself and have gratitude for this time – it’s limited.

        I got upset at Christmas when my son reminded me this could be his last stocking under the tree. (Yes we still do that – read on for why.) As my son said to me “I’m not gone yet, you’ve got me for another 14 months yet.” I had to hide the sad sigh I nearly let out.

        But of course he was right. And if I get this right, I will be a part of his future. It’s hard to admit your role at this age is to become surplice to requirements. But then, you remember there will be a whole new myriad of ways they will want and need support, and of course therefore your jobs not over yet.

        4. Respect the Door (And Get It Reinforced – They Will Slam It!)

        Things are changing and they need space to work out what that means; just as you want to desperately hold on to the cute child that used to run home from school and want a cuddle and to tell you all about it.

        When their door is shut, respect that – knock before you go in. Don’t fear something sinister is happening in there. It showcases you respect their space. These little unsaid things will start to speak in a positive way to your teen.

        Likewise, you want them to respect your privacy and quiet time – and my children are far more respectful of me as I’ve given them more respect. Which leads us on to…

        5. Relinquish Control – Start Them Young. (8 to 10 Years Old)

        Ask yourself:

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        How and when will I relinquish control? At what pace? And why is this important to introduce?

        From that age, our children had no bedtime. We’d discuss how tired they thought they were, and when did they want to go to bed?

        Yes we would have “I feel wide away Mummy” nights where they were clearly exhausted and then the conversation would progress to:

        “So what’s the reason you keep yawning do you think?”

        “When Mummy yawns, what do you think it means?”

        That kind of question is a coaching question that puts the responsibility back on the other person. And it helps them to learn to listen to their body – something critical for the teen years.

        You can’t expect an 19 year old to magically get up ready for a day at work or university if you didn’t help them learn to listen to their own bodies years in advance.

        6. It’s Okay to Play

        I asked my daughter’s friend why she felt I was a great parent. She shared that while I was “scary,” (code for expected high standards) I encourage play.

        At 15, a group of girls can feel awkward jumping around in a pool and playing like, well kids – is that allowed as teens? As I pointed out at the time – you’re in a secluded garden – you can squeal with excitement, play volley ball and no one can see you to judge you playing – it is still allowed at 15.

        That’s why my children still set up for Santa every year. Don’t be so quick to grow up.

        As a coach, it is only when I bring fun to the session can someone really deal with difficult obstacles in their life. Lead by example, let them see fun is not off the agenda just because you grow up – they have incredibly creative minds at this age, so enable and empower that and they could benefit for their whole lives.

        7. Know When to Loosen the Leash

        Social media and phones in general can be a massive headache for parents.

        “You spend your life on that phone,” ask yourself why.

        Is it because they hate the real world and it’s more fun?

        Or is it more likely because they can hang out virtually with their friends no matter where they are or what “lame” chore they’re doing? It can lighten the load by sharing with a friend. No different to you.

        When I was a kid, I was constantly moaned at for having my head in a book; “Get outside” “Don’t you want to go and play with your friends?” I’d hear every weekend and holiday.

        I love reading – it’s an escape, a place to learn. A place to calm my thoughts and not have to engage with anyone or anything – that phone does the same for them.

        Instead of being so quick to limit their time and control when and where they can use it, have a conversation about how your teen likes to use their phone and how it can be used to navigate the fact you are in a family environment, and you don’t always want to see their face with a metal block in front of it;

        “How can I give you your space and time with your friends every day and get to hear about your day too?”

        Remember, don’t make it about you and your needs – it’s not that they don’t care; it’s just there’s too much going on for you to be at the top of the importance pile.

        8. Teach off Line Time by Getting off Line

        Our interconnected worlds are awesome to reduce loneliness, but they also can make us question who we are and reduce confidence and escalate anxiety.

        One report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK surveyed 1500 young people, ages 14 – 24, to determine the effects of social media on issues such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and body image.[2] They found that YouTube had the most positive impact, while Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat all had negative effects on mental health

        9. Ask Yourself “What Did You Hate Your Parents Saying to You?”

        I can remember my Dad had an infuriating rule that we weren’t allowed out on a Friday night – “Friday night is family night.”

        I’ve always believed in the importance of a meal sat around a table where everyone gets to off load about their day. But my teens can be keen to race their food desperate to get back to homework, gaming or friends online. However we expect a little of their day.

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        “In 24 hours, I don’t think it’s a lot to give your Mum and Dad an hour at meal time” I say.

        It’s a completely reasonable request (with relapses allowed as you will see below.) But it ensures we stay bonded as a family and the conversations always include laughter and yes, some stroppy antagonising between siblings. But it’s a chance for 4 people to come together and chat with no agenda. Hence no phones, but even that has leniency.

        If you want to be a part of your teens’ life, take an interest in their passions. I don’t have a great love for K-pop but I can do a few of Twice’s dance moves and I can sing along to a few BTS songs. It’s about respecting them, their hobbies, passions, interests, etc.

        You can’t expect respect if you don’t give it, right? That’s why even the phone rule can get a reprieve.

        If they’ve seen a great meme or a funny YouTube, if we’ve finished eating, we will suggest they fetch their phone so they can share it. I’ve also learnt it means they end up sticking around long past the allotted 60 minutes Mum and Dad time to share other videos and share more.

        This obviously is something I’m not prepared to relinquish. I feel it’s a life skill I want them to learn now. But it wasn’t just enforced – we talked about the reasons why we felt it was important and how to make it a part of their day they enjoyed rather than endured.

        So I listen to the things they hate and even if I’m not keen, I flex and bend:

        I will let friend stay in the week.

        They have proven that a game or film is age appropriate when I’ve thought differently – and they’ve then listened when I’ve firmly said “Actually sorry but no, not yet.”

        I don’t say “Your too young” I’ve asked “What do you think that outfit may suggest?” And usually with a sigh they’ve been able to see the logic – but again they’ve also convinced me otherwise – my daughter convinced me she should have fish night tights (Like many things for me, these were banned as a teen and I was badly bullied for being the only child in 150 students wearing school colours when everyone else had the latest trends! My parents told me it was character building – I know now it took many years to find my confidence and like being me)

        So there’s compromise – She can have them if they are under her holey jeans – Daughter Fashionable – Mum Happy.

        10. Remember That No Conversation Is off Limits

        While that may feel daunting and possibly even a little icky for you, if you aren’t prepared to answer their questions when and how they need them answered they will go online – and 31% of children have shared a fake news story.[3]

        My friend said they wouldn’t be talking about sex with their 10 year old because it wasn’t appropriate only for it to come up in a conversation in front of me.

        Remember, it doesn’t have to be graphic detail. A simplified answer is usually enough – and if you get an over exuberant questioner, there are lots of books that will help you and them learn the subject without feeling you are losing their childhood before your eyes.

        That way they will grow up knowing they can trust you to give them true and honest answers. Treating like young adults.

        11. Mom’s and Dad’s Have Needs Too

        Teens need to learn that they are not the centre of the universe but in a delicate way – because right now, they feel like they are.

        Choose your moments wisely. You can say “I feel like I’ve got a lot on this week, do you feel you can think of any ways to help me get through it all? Are there any chores around the house you could help with?”

        One client introduced home rules and was surprised of the knock on impact it had in their professional lives too.

        12. Don’t Drop Your Standards

        I don’t want to paint a picture of two angelic teenagers – my daughter just now didn’t listen and ended up hoovering all 17 rooms instead of the 4 I asked she hoover – we laughed after I gave her a minute to calm down!

        But the fact is if you feel like they aren’t listening, they probably aren’t. They start to wander off when they’ve got their thoughts out of their head….

        So choose your time well to discuss things you feel are important and ensure they’ve heard what you’ve said.

        I often hear “You didn’t say that.” When you get that answer, It’s no good getting into “Yes I did, you were standing right there when I said it!” because that turns into a she said, he said moment that couldn’t get unpicked it a court of law.

        Make sure when you ask them to do something or need to know something, you have a witness – that way either your partner, friend or their sibling can say on your behalf “Did you hear what your Mum said?” Usually you get a vague “er yes.”

        Or ask them to repeat it back to you. That way, you know that they know what they’ve been asked to do – so the excuses for why they didn’t do it later won’t happen.

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        Just remember if you have standards and you expect things from them. Be prepared to listen to them and understand what they feel is important too.

        13. The Bank of Mom and Dad Doesn’t Need to Shut but It Does Need to Come with Terms and Conditions

        It won’t be long before they need to go to the bank and ask for a loan to buy a house or set up student loans – get them into the habit of understanding financial conversations and terminology.

        Don’t get all high and mighty with “You need to understand the value of money” or “In my day we respected money” they aren’t listening (remember?)

        On the other hand, if you say something that relates to what they want in the world – a lift to a party (late at night) the latest K-pop band album that they HAVE to have the day it comes out, you can ask “Okay I’m happy to help you achieve this, how will you be paying for this?”

        My children get low pocket money that’s paid into a bank account, and has been since they were young. And yes, only they had the bank card because I wanted them to learn about how to handle money; to save, to understand when it says zero on the balance, you don’t have the funds to see the latest Marvel film or meet your mates. So, what are you going to do about it?

        The reason they get low pocket money is not because we are evil but, because when those overpriced K-pop albums are shipped half way around the world to my excited teenager, she is excited and proud:

        Yes she saved up. Yes she delivered a thousand newspapers to help pay for it.

        And that level of determination and sacrifice of other short-term things she would have loved to own mean I’m happy to make up the difference.

        The interesting thing is they never ask for money. So, if it’s given as a surprise, they are always very grateful and appreciate that is not the norm.

        I usually ensure after the “Thanks Mum, you’re awesome” has died down, we do have a serious conversation around “Now, you know why I paid the rest right?”

        And I then give her the space to think and list of “Yes mum, I helped with the kitchen, I have cleared my washing (I don’t do their washing – if I do their washing at 15 and 18 at what age are they going to learn? Just as they are starting a long houred new job or as they start University and will need their brain space for far more important things.)

        We are 4 adults living in this house all with:

        • Goals
        • Ambitions.
        • Friends.
        • Work.
        • Weekend plans.

        And because of that we all need to appreciate that every week this house will need:

        • Floors washing.
        • Hoovering.
        • Polishing.
        • Cleaning.
        • Grass cut.
        • Recycling.
        • And various other tasks.

        Don’t confront them. Don’t give them ultimatums. Ask questions like:

        “I know you’ve got big plans for this weekend, as you can see the house needs to be tidy by Monday, what can you do to help with that?”

        Or

        “I know you’ve got a lot of homework to do but a little brain space will help you process your thoughts. So in between homework, how can you help with the weekly chores?”

        And if they don’t help? The recycling has ended up on my sons bed and I have put dirty cups back in my daughters bedroom with a note saying “Sorry these don’t live on the side.”

        14. Don’t Assume What You See Is What You Are Getting

        Adults hide their true emotions all the time. I know that sometimes the last thing my kids want is me in their room, but other times they want a chat and someone listening to them.

        Don’t go in strong – still be who you’ve always been to them but read the signs:

        • Longer gaming than usual.
        • Sitting in the dark on the phone.
        • Not wanting to eat with you.
        • Getting home and hiding in the room without even saying hello.
        • More short tempered than usual.
        • Eating more or less.

        There’re many and you know your child. Trust your gut instinct but don’t go in all guns blazing “Let mummy fix it!” The door will be slammed in your face or you will hear “Ergh, mum you just don’t get it.”

        With teens, it’s all about the timing.

        15. Be Proud

        List their brilliance – it will help you for the day they are hitting your buttons.

        16. Don’t Push It

        When my son finished his GCSE’s, he was going to be off school for nearly 4 months. I had made it clear that the rest of the family were working, so he wouldn’t spend 4 months gaming. If he didn’t’ find a job, I could find plenty of jobs around the house. (I sound so evil right?)

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        I’ve learnt that to push it means they will push back. So when one month passed and still he had no job, he noticed the money dried up. He wanted new shorts (This had holes). Everyone was going to the cinema and“he didn’t have enough in his bank account.

        I didn’t argue with him, I just said “A job would probably be useful then” and wouldn’t get dragged into it; as hard as it is I so wanted to just phone my business contacts and find him a job.

        I knew that the real reason he hadn’t found a job was because he feared going into restaurants, bars, shops and offices and asking for one. I can remember that fear and I wasn’t going to force his hand. His friends did that for me.

        Eventually 2 months later when I still wasn’t opening the doors of the bank of Mom and Dad, he came home proudly to announce he had been offered 5 interviews and had 2 jobs he could immediately start that Saturday.

        In one morning!

        Wow that was fast? What did I do?

        Nothing.

        He needed to get there for himself. Eventually the pain of not having the things and experiencing what he wanted was associated with having no money. And so he did something about it despite the fear of talking to strangers or carrying 5 plates at once.

        Fear will never stop being an issue in life – trust me as a coach specialising in this, I know!

        Wind forward 6 months and the boss of the restaurant stopped me and said “Your son has an awesome work ethic, is great with customers, gets loads of tips and learns quickly.” Now that beats any school report!

        If I had forced him this first memories of interviews and getting jobs, it would have been stressful for him.

        By not pushing him, he could get there on his own and now knows he can get the job – that’s essential knowledge and experience for life. Interviews are scary enough!

        17. Teach Life Skills

        Basic life skills such as how to shake someone’s hand, how to greet someone, why eye contact is important and what your body language can say to people – before you get a chance to speak…

        These (and many more) help when you aren’t feeling confident to try new things. Don’t expect miracles only 5 years earlier he was still asking me to take him around the local area to find Pokémon!

        18. Make Time for Fun

        There are few things I put my foot down about. We expect a high standard from our children and don’t get me wrong, they can stomp off and slam a door like Olympic champions if they want to, but they do know we expect:

        Film night once a month – we will provide the sweets and popcorn you give us 2 hours of your life.

        Meal time every night – with a few naughty treats – do you know how excited a teen gets at the prospect of a pizza in bed all on their own watching what they like?

        I think it’s only fair because we all need space and while I’m not keen on the eating in bed thing –give in and let them do a few things they love. Your actions show you care. Even if the bed sheets aren’t so appreciative.

        In the school holidays, I expect them to come out for the day with me and yes, take them to any café or restaurant they like. Give and take.

        Go to the cinema and see what they want. I could go in a different cinema and watch my choice of film but it’s usually a dead cert that I will be watching Marvel or some off spin CGI film with them instead.

        I’ve seen every Disney, Pixar and Marvel film going – I could do with a break and a few films with real humans in, but my theory is you don’t get to keep them for long.

        Final Thoughts

        And that’s the point isn’t it. If you find yourself seeing red, and struggling, they are at the age that they could be moving out within a few years and that’s it for this stage – it’s all over.

        I cherish every half term. Every moan about a teacher. Every in-depth description of “she said, he said” because in a few years time, they will get new people in their lives — girlfriends, boyfriends… And then you really are knocked off their pedestal!

        As my mum said to me when my children were very little, teething and sleep was something I’d read about in a fairy tale. But I didn’t believe were real, I’d asked “Mum does it get easier?” and my Mum replied with a smile “It doesn’t get easier, it gets different.”

        So I look forward to what the next stage will bring – probably no less worry, no less fun, no less conversations but, possibly more place settings at the table and some exciting times. Another reason to cherish every day now.

        Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

        Reference

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