Hormones kick in and all of a sudden you have a whole new child. It seemingly happens overnight. One day you look at your daughter and you think, wait, who are you? You look at them and wonder if your baby is still hidden somewhere in there beneath the mood swings, sarcasm and rolling eyes. But she is in there and here are a few tips on how to deal with her.
Each child is different:
You have heard it, and you know it, but the fact is that it applies to how children navigate puberty as well. For me, my daughter is closer to me than ever. I kid around with her that if she could crawl back into my uterus she would. She likes to have me near her even if she is not paying attention to me and is talking to her friends. I know many kids that want nothing to do with their parents at this age. Neither is good or bad it is how they deal with growing up and unfortunately, they don’t come with a how-to manual, but there are things that I think girls need at this stage and one of them is a lot of attention. Even when they say they don’t want it…they do, they just may not want it the way you are dishing it out.
It IS a big deal:
Okay, you know that the fact that a boy that never knew she even liked him doesn’t notice her isn’t a big deal. You know the boy is not significant and that there will be many boys that she likes and that many will be cuter and smarter than THAT boy. But here is the thing, if it a big deal to her it IS a big deal. You can tell her these things, you can be real and honest and say it won’t matter in a year, but acknowledge that it matters now…that it hurts, that it sucks and it isn’t fair. Let her talk to you about it and complain until she is exhausted. Let her cry to you and comfort her. Be there for her and know that she is learning how to go through life and how to deal with new emotions. She has to figure it out and you have to help her and that makes it a BIG deal. If she is acting like something is a big deal, treat it as such. You may have much bigger things going on in your life that she can’t even comprehend that really are a BIG deal but see it from her perspective. Never forget that you are her mother, but don’t lecture her, guide her.
This is a learning process:
Life is a collection of experiences and memories that teach you how to not only grow, but survive. There are many feelings that are awakened during puberty that you daughter has never had to deal with before. As a kid if a friend doesn’t want to play with you, you tend to get over it quickly and run to another friend…it is forgotten. Now she is learning to deal with embarrassment, jealousy, backstabbing, pride and yes love in ways that children do not. It is coming at her at once and she has to learn how to process and react to these emotions. The same way you taught her how to poop in the toilet, tie her shoe and ride bike you can teach her this. This is where you will teach her patience, empathy, self confidence and many other traits that will set her up for the rest of her life. Guide her.
Set standards and expectations in advance:
Always let your children know what you expect of them. This means not only the rules but also the consequences and stick to it. Children crave consistency in everything, even discipline. It gives them a sense of order. They will have a better understanding of how to please you and I strong believe that every child (well, every person) craves their parents’ approval. Let them know how to do that. When I gave my daughter her phone (which she begged me for) I explained that it sat by my bed to charge every night, that I would have access to everything on her phone but explained I would only check it if she gave me reason to (I never check it but I can), that I can track her and that it would be taken away if she was on it instead of doing homework, if she was using it at the dinner table and if she didn’t answer my calls when she was out. She has lost her phone once and she didn’t get mad at me she was upset because she knew the rules and broke them. I wasn’t mad at her she just had to give me her phone as she knew the consequences. It is a system that works well for everyone and she is happy with it. She knows I trust her but she also knows I am a mom, her mom and I do it because I love her and I am guiding her.
I don’t want my kids to drink , get in the car with a drunk driver or hang around bad influences but do you remember being a kid? My daughter has this one friend who is a sweet and nice girl and I genuinely like her, but I know she is too fast for her age. One day without getting into details I told my daughter that this girl was THAT friend that everyone has. The one that says and does inappropriate things for her age and that I know my daughter was pretending she already knew to keep up and in the process learning quite a bit. I had no evidence of this just life experience. There is always that one friend that teaches you terms and tells you information that never even occurred to you. At first my daughter was shocked when I told her my hypothesis, and then she started laughing. I had pegged her friend, and her. I told her it was fine, there was always that one friend and that is how we all tend to learn those type of things but that she can never forget who she is. That she doesn’t need to impress or to emulate her friend. That you can have friends that you love dearly but you know that you are just different. That is okay to say no to the things you don’t want to say or do. I would never tell her not to be friends with her, she is a good person. I just explained that she is a girl that will make bad choices until she figures it out. My daughter does not have to follow that path but she can be a friend to her. This has made my daughter closer to me, she confides in me and I trust her to be who she is.
Tell Her and SHOW Her You Love Her:
Even if your child wants to be distant from you for a while, you need to be consistent in your love for her. Don’t spoil her with stuff but surprise her with what she needs or wants. It isn’t about buying them things it is about showing that you are listening. That you see them and you hear what is important to them. They say they don’t want you at their basketball game but when you don’t go it is what they will remember for years. Show them that they are your priority. Even if you are just there in the background, they will always remember that they came first and nothing makes a child feel better than that. If they push you away it is your job to get close. Don’t talk to them about what you want to hear, let them talk to you. Let them teach you. When they don’t want to talk, find what they like and let them explain it to you. My stepdaughter loves make up. She can talk about it for hours. Even though I have always put on my own make up and I am pretty good at it I let her teach me. She has contoured my face before a night out. I let her be the expert and teach me what she loves. Trying to one-up your kids even though you may have years of experience just pushes them away. Teach them, but make sure that in the process they understand that they are teaching you as well… and teach they will.