The preteen years can be some of the most challenging for parents to get through with their children. Rebellious, experimental, moody, and angry are all emotions and actions that preteens may naturally face. Parents often find it most difficult to relate to and communicate with their children during this time in their lives. Here are 5 suggestions to help parents navigate the unruly preteen years.
1. Have your Preteen Enroll in Counseling
Preteens may stop communicating fully with parents because they see them as rule-enforcers in a time where they are first beginning to seek out freedom. Preteens feel they have enough knowledge and experience to want time and space to themselves, but still want to be understood and heard. By having a preteen enroll in counseling, parents are opening up an un-biased, third-party channel to allow their child space to talk about all the emotions and frustrations they are facing, without feeling inhibited by parental presence.
Counselors have the skills to be able to sit and listen to the feelings and emotions of a preteen, hear their side of the story without becoming defensive, and understand what is really going on in the home, even if the preteen is not sharing everything. They can help the preteen find coping mechanisms for dealing with their emotions.
2. Sensory Stimulation Activities
Many preteens act out because they find themselves experiencing boredom or restlessness. There are safe ways of helping your child “act out” that don’t bring harm to themselves or their family. Involve the preteen in physical activities in a controlled environment to get them moving, their endorphins rushing, and their senses stimulated.
Activities like going to a paintball range, taking up wrestling or boxing, rock climbing, swimming, karate, dance, etc. can be exhilarating for preteens to experience. It is a safe, controlled environment where it is okay to use the entire body to express yourself. This may help teens with their feelings of restlessness or anger.
3. Boarding School
Another option is to allow your preteen some time at a boarding school like Admiral Farragut Academy. This option is a bit more in-depth, but can also prove a great outlet for your preteen to get away from the house for some time, and to work on their emotions. Boarding school is a great way to allow your preteen time to be independent and grow, while in a safe and controlled environment. There are many different types of boarding schools with different levels of difficulty, different lengths of stay time, and different environments to suit individuals’ needs.
4. Spending More Time with your Preteen
Preteens may act like the last person they want to spend time with is their parents. However, they are experiencing a time of life where everything is suddenly unstable; their emotions, their schooling, their bodies, their friend groups, and their mental state. What they are craving is stability, and the parent can provide that. Propose the idea of taking your preteen out to do something of their choice. Maybe they have been excited about seeing a new band in concert, maybe they want to go bowling, maybe there’s a new restaurant you could try together. Let them pick the outing and don’t make any comments or excuses; even if it’s something you’re not particularly excited about doing. When you take the time to understand their passions and what excites them, they understand that you are interested in them.
Many high schools and colleges require a certain amount of volunteer hours from their students. Why not get a head start? Begin introducing your preteen to the idea of volunteering at a local non-profit or charity organization. Again, let them pick. Maybe they’re passionate about animals and could help at a shelter. Maybe they love going to the beach and could do a beach clean-up day with their friends. Jump in and volunteer alongside them. This will help your preteen build job skills, begin to understand the idea of social responsibility, and rack up those community service hours for college.
For more great tips on helping your preteens, check out this article about dealing with rude behavior at parenting.com
About the author
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.