Thursday, December 30, 2010

How do I help my tween-aged rebel?

Ms. Dorothy,
My son is 12, and whenever he doesn't like the way a teacher talks to him, or delivers an assignment, he gets stubborn and rebellious and refuses to do what he is asked. How do I convince him that he is only punishing himself and not the teacher?
- Mom of a tween-ager

It is amazing how much a twelve year old is like a 2 year old. They want to be independent ("Me do!") and try out all that their newly developing bodies can do; but they really don't have the experience or mastery to climb as far as they think they can, without support.

Just like when he was 2, you want to encourage him to explore and assert his independence, but you want to be within reach in case he has bitten off more than he can chew. And you want to comfort him and convince him to try again when he falls.

These in-between years are all about experimenting with power and experiencing consequences. The skinned knees are different when reflected in grades, but they are just as important to the learning.

Those who teach this age group know what they are up against. Talk to his teacher.
Then brace yourself for that gut-wrenching feeling when you see that chair tipping over just like you knew it would. Then, like you did when he was little, say, "Wow, that hurt, huh? But you're ok. Let's try that again. You want my help this time?"

Often parenting is about finding the right balance between offering support and allowing consequences.

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