How to handle children in the preadolescence age ?

The pre-adolescent age is difficult to handle. What are the best ways to handle pre-adolescents? What lessons must pre-adolescents be taught? Check out this article to know the tips on how to deal with the erratic behaviour of a preteen.

The years between childhood and adolescence are called pre-adolescence. The pre-adolescence age is a precarious stage, and even more so today than it ever was. I wouldn't be wrong in stating that the pre-adolescents today are being deprived of their childhood.

The kind of stuff that kids today are exposed to, robs them of their innocence. There are biological changes happening, too, and rather rapidly. The average age of puberty has come down and children are reaching sexual maturity fairly early. Girls are attaining puberty at 8 years and the average age for boys has come down to 9-10 years.

All this results in not just physical changes, but also has an impact on the emotional and cognitive growth. These changes occur at an age, where the pre-adolescent, is still a child. Parents and children are ill prepared to face the changes that come with puberty, and they inadvertently trigger skirmishes at home and in school.

Adults lack the skill to handle pre-adolescents, as they begin to assert themselves and vie for independence. Their behaviour changes – they begin using offensive language, watch adult content and emulate what they see on the internet etc. While all of this is itself a problem, there are other problems attached to the behaviour. The distractions result in poor concentration and the falling of grades. Pre-adolescents face peer pressure with regard to sexuality, leading them to explore and experiment. There is so much that has an influence on these youngsters, including working parents, nuclear families, social media and even single parents.

It's a rough age to handle, but if parents and teachers follow practical approaches in managing the pre-adolescents then it becomes a lot easier. Knowing what to accept and how to react can prepare you to cope with this volatile age in children. Differentiating between good parentings and bad parenting can make it a little less stressful for you.

Stay informed – update yourself

There is a lot of literature available on the internet and you also have books on pre-adolescent behavior and child psychology. Read through them to know what could be going on with children this age, and how best to tackle them. You get a better insight of how the pre-adolescents see things and why they behave the way they do. It is like putting yourself in their shoes; it helps you to relate to them, better. You get an opportunity to understand their perspective and this can actually help you to formulate tactics that you can put together, as a solution to the problem.

Also, press the rewind button on your life, and go back to the phase when you were a pre-adolescent. You will recall your struggles and the effect they had on your life – the awkwardness you faced, because of things, which were actually inconsequential – you'll see that your growing up years were also filled with your desire to conform with your peers.

Your pre-adolescent is going through the very same emotions, but a tad more intense. Know that it is part of the growing-up phase and it will pass. Nevertheless, prepare yourself to handle conflicts, because they are bound to happen. Meanwhile, adopt parenting methods for the pre-adolescent, so this phase of your journey gets smoother.

Talk, Listen, Respond

Communication is the key to every healthy relationship. It is important that you talk to and listen to your kids. There is so much that you can gather with what is going on in their lives, by just spending time having conversations. Remember, your child will only open up to you if you have worked on building a healthy relationship with the child – where the child can talk to you freely, without fear and inhibition.

Pay attention to subtle changes in your child's behavior. Is you kid paying extra attention to their appearance? Is the child talking more about a certain someone of the opposite sex? It is a sign that your child is going through changes and becoming aware of their own sexuality. It is a good time to start a meaningful conversation with your child.

Talk to them about the different physical, emotional, social and cognitive changes that they will experience and how they are normal. You do not have to get into minute details – just keep it simple and reply to their questions. Open the lines of communication with your child early on in life, and you will find it easier to connect even through the 'difficult' teen years. Let your child know that while the changes and emotions they feel are normal, there is a time for everything. The present is the time when they should focus on paving a path that will shape their future

Share your own experiences of adolescence with your child. Talk about mistakes and what you learnt from them. Talk about the challenges and fears you faced. Your kid needs to know that you have been through that age too, and that puts them at ease and makes them open up to you. It is part of a holistic parenting approach and it works.

Get into their shoes

Parents have too many expectations of their children and rarely know what the child feels. Once in a way view their life through their eyes. Empathize with your child and know that their behavior is normal for their age. Children cannot be expected to think and function as adults. So, don't pressurize the child. Instead, make your child realize that it is common to be a victim of peer pressure but it is in the child's interest to make wise choices.

When you speak to them about the rights and the wrongs you empower them to make better choices. You child is more likely to do the right thing if the child knows the pros and cons involved. Benefits and consequences of every action must be explained to the child. There is also the issue of social meanness, which you will need to address. Read through some helpful content on tackling social meanness in adolescents.

Show interest and set reasonable expectations

Parents tend to be over critical, of most, things their child wants to do, be it their choice of clothes or music or friends or habits. Set reasonable expectations, don't admonish everything your child does or wants to do. Be part of their journey and give your opinions. Children go through this phase where they want their space and become their own person. They don't seek independence from you but try to make their own identity, independent from yours.

Don't restrict them, because then you'll tie them down. Let them discover things, but at the same time set boundaries which they know they must respect. Have reasonable expectations and your child will please you, by fulfilling them. If you have too many restrictions your child will do things behind your back. Pressuring the child can lead to stress, but children can get stressed with other things too. As a parent learn to identify stress in your children and help them fight stress.

Know who your child is friends with

It is important that you know each of your child's friend. It is better if you know their parents as well. Encourage the friends coming over to your place as this will provide you with an opportunity to know them better. Knowing the families of your child's friends will help in creating a healthy environment for your child – for the other parents will watch over your child too.

Monitor screen time

There is so much inappropriate material on the internet that you need to be extra cautious of the sites your child has access to. Block sites with unsuitable content. Keep tabs on the type of books and magazines your child reads. Regulate screen time or have the computer set in a common area that restricts privacy. It is imperative that you control what they watch and do on the internet.

Appreciation is the key

Relationships remain healthy and flourish when there is appreciation. Do not scrimp on praise. Be generous with praise when it is required, as it boosts confidence and self-worth. Appreciate your child each time you find that they have followed the rules or done things expected of them. Compliment them even for mundane things, like letting you know where they are when they are out with friends. There are different methods through which a child's confidence can be boosted.

Encourage physical activity

Everyone needs physical activity and a growing child needs it more so. Encourage your child to play a sport or swim or cycle. Minimum one hour of physical exercise is healthy for growing children. It helps release stress and regulates hormones.

Teens are also prone to depression. So, stay alert so you can help your teen fight depression.

Have some serious talk

Serious talk on the subject of sex and sexuality is important. Whenever possible voice your views on what is right and healthy and what is wrong and unhealthy, in terms of how sexuality is portrayed in movies etc. Don't shy away from the topic of rape, when there is a debate on air. Whether your pre-adolescent is female or male, they need to know why rape is wrong.

It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure your child does not get involved in something that could ruin their future. And one of the ways to do that is through passing the right information. If you don't teach your daughter to respect her own body, then who will? If you don't teach your son to respect females then who will?

A child, who knows that sexting and sharing nude pictures is wrong, will not indulge in such activity. Explain to them how it is unsafe and why they must take responsibility for their actions. The internet can be a dangerous place and gullible children can easily get entrapped with the wrong kind of people and get involved in unsafe activities. Caution your children on how to stay safe.

Encourage friendship between opposite gender – it is healthy as it allows a better understanding of the sexes, which leads to mutual respect.

Final word

Your child is your responsibility, so don't run away from the responsibility. Make time and take the effort to gently guide your child. Be there to lend an ear, when your child needs you. Share your experiences, both good and bad, with them. Create an atmosphere of mutual trust. And finally, love your child unconditionally. Remember, it is the combination of your interactions with your children that will shape the way your relationship with them grows.

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