Raising a resilient preteen

The world is so PC these days…no seriously, I remember when bulrush was just another playground game, and getting my ponytail pulled by some prankster from behind me was not punishable.

Now we’ve removed boundaries for kids and have replaced them with regulations, because God forbid a child might be traumatised. Instead of teaching our kids boundaries and trusting that other parents are doing the same for theirs, we’re coming up with ways of shielding children after the fact and that’s not healthy. We’re trying to regulate all the outside forces without actually focusing on what’s important: the home-grown discipline, self-defence and feeling of self-worth. If we can just for a second focus on how important it is to prevent children from segregating into bullies and victims, instead of trying to come up with solutions once the damage is done, we as a society could really benefit.

How you can do your bit to raise a resilient preteen :

– Work on their self-esteem with them. Tell them how amazing they are.

– Had a bad day at work? Great! Tell your preteen about it and how you held your ground. Children listen, and this will give you a way to lead by example.

– Did your preteen lose a game, or not win something at school? Discuss what they could have done better so they have a game-plan for next time.

– Bad grade? Ask them where they think they went wrong and work through it so it doesn’t happen next time.

– Ask them what they think about themselves. Get them to draw a picture. Discuss that.

– Discuss how how your preteen feels about their life. Have a conversation with your child! Because you’re not asking doesn’t mean their emotions or thoughts don’t exist.

– Check in regularly to keep on track so you can be confident that you actually know who they are and what they’re thinking.

You can probably see a pattern here: teaching self-esteem and self-analysis. A healthy self-esteem will guide them to make the best decisions in the moment. Self-analysis will help them overcome their actions’ consequences in a logical manner. Show that one bad thing doesn’t spiral anything out of control: they are in control of their future actions and the best way to add confidence is to simply go over their steps for next time. It’s like studying for a test: study, know your game plan, and you’ll be confident when coming out of it. It’s that simple.

I’d like to invite you – the parents of these wonderful preteens to join me on the mission: the mission to start from home to discipline your children instead of spending the rest of your life fixing a broken self-esteem after a traumatic experience. If we get enough voices where parents themselves are doing their bit to raise a generation they can be proud of, we can focus on raising awesome adults – and that, hopefully, is your game plan.

By Eva Maria
Eva-Maria is an inter-generational relationships expert and author of bestselling book You Shut Up! and sequel Shush, You!. Visit www.eva-maria.co.nz.

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