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I'm failing at parenting a tween

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Please don't quote.

 

I feel like such a failure and have shed many tears.  I am at a loss when it comes to ds10.  I'm frustrated with the attitude, I'm not responding well, and I am to the point where I don't enjoy him anymore.  It feels like everything is correcting instead of having any kind of fun together.  Honestly, I feel like the worst mother in the world. 

 

Book recommendations?  Blogs?  Been there, done that and survived encouragement?  I feel so discouraged . . .

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This is SO NORMAL for this age. This is why people used to send their adolescents away on apprenticeships or off to boarding school!

 

Adolescents gonna be adolescent.

 

Now, the good news is that they do grow out of it. I'm not sure when, but it does happen. We all did, after all!

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My DS is entering a growth phase too. I have to keep reminding both of us, out loud, that this is totally normal. DD was equally challenging about two years ago and is on her way out. DS is on his way into the puberty zone. Every once in a while, I can look at him and see the changes. Where his shoulders used to be flat across, he's got triangles (trapezius muscles) sprouting.

 

What works for me...

 

1. Don't push too much. Rather than fighting, separate and take a break from the situation or each other, whatever is causing the frustration. When calm is restored, then we talk or move on.

 

2. Involve DH. DH has really had to step up, not in the heat of the moment but before and after to explicitly talk about appropriate male behavior. Modeling hasn't been, in and of itself, enough. DS used to be my buddy but he really looks to DH for guidance these days and loves spending at least one weekend day in his company alone.

 

3. Wine. So much wine (and a little whining too).

 

4. Really make sure DS is getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods. My DS is a BEAST when he lacks adequate rest. Last night, for ex. I sent him to bed at a quarter to nine and he didn't wake up until 8:30. He needs that more often than not.

Edited by Sneezyone
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Agreed with the above. You're totally not failing - she's at a difficult age.

 

To add to the above tips...

 

1. Feed her. Keep more healthy snacks on hand. (We see this one for boys a lot, but girls have their giant growth spurt then)

 

2. Give her choices and power over things that you can - obviously some things just can't be her decision, but what order to do work in, what posters to put up in her room, how to dress, how to cut her hair, what to eat for snack, etc. etc. Give her as much as you can.

 

3. Give her times to be responsible - I think kids crave this - it can be tricky at this age to give them genuine responsibility that is also things it's okay if they fail at (because they might sometimes, even if you choose things that you feel they can succeed with). Chores can be one way - but don't let it turn into something you're nagging over. Letting her walk to the store or be in charge or something little that gives her a sense of that responsibility instead of yet another thing.

 

4. Think about volunteering or opportunities for her to work with younger kids or with adults other than you.

 

5. Don't take it personally. Don't think - I'm a failure. Because it's not true. And that's hard to recover from. Assume this is how it is and that it's mostly normal and that it's not you - it's her growth spurt/oncoming puberty/rapid brain growth - and those are things she has no real control over so you can't hold it personally against her either. It's just a period you both have to get through the best you can. Forgiving her and yourself when things are tough will probably help.

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:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

 

Please keep reminding yourself that this isn't personal.  Meaning his push back and "attitude" are developmentally normal and part of the process of growing up.  He isn't rejecting or attacking you, his mother, he is going through physiological changes that are necessary and expected and those changes are going to cause him to react differently than he used to.  It is a process and can be difficult for all (including the tween) but it isn't personal.  If you can disassociate your own feelings from this, try hard to parent from a place of rationality instead of raw emotion, it will make this process easier.  Not easy.  Just easier.  He's still your same boy.  He's just got to go through some adjustments.

 

When you feel yourself getting angry or hurt, walk away for a bit.  I had a friend that continually butted heads with her 11 year old daughter.  Finally, they both agreed that when emotions were started to run amok they would each go to a different area of their home for 30 minutes and think about something else for a bit.  Usually they were then able to calm down, think more rationally, and discuss the situation.  

 

I know with my own son he once told me his body was sending him all kinds of confusing signals.  He said that in a given moment he would feel so oppressed and put upon and misunderstood and frustrated with life and the world that he would get extremely argumentative and sometimes really, really angry...and then a few hours later would be wondering what in the world he had been so upset about.  If DH and I hadn't turned whatever the situation was into a massive control thing, trying to force compliance in a combative way, if we just stepped back for a bit, 9 times out of ten we could work it all out without a tear or a harsh word.  DH is not good at doing that, though, and would often take every rolled eye, every sharp tone, every push back as a personal affront, get deeply wounded and the situation could often spiral into oblivion.

 

With DD and DS what tended to work much better was a state of grace.  Not let them get away with murder.  I don't mean just let them walk all over you.  I mean take a breather, be clear on boundaries, dispassionate about enforcing those boundaries with calm and understanding, and when you are at your angriest or most hurt, take a breather.  Step back.  And give hugs, even when you don't feel like hugging.  And listen.  I mean really listen.  Don't automatically leap in with a "but" or a "you should have" or anything along those lines.  Even if their responses are not logical, listen to what they are saying.  Make sure they feel heard and respected and most importantly LOVED.  This isn't easy for them, either.  They are reacting but they may not even have a clue why.

 

And give yourself a few hugs, too.  It isn't easy being a parent.

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

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OneStepAtATime's post reminds me... talk to her about it too. My kids also have expressed at this age that they don't understand why they're being so angry or anxious or unreasonable. When there's a quiet moment, tell her that her body is going through this - that her brain is growing, that she is growing taller, that she is going through puberty, etc. - and that sometimes that means big mood swings or stronger emotions or whatever. In the moment, it's hard to remember, but I think when they calm down, it helps them have perspective about what's going on. I know it has helped my kids learn to apologize after they did whatever unreasonable thing they did.

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I read once about the 9-year old change. That we encountered when my ds was around 9 1/2. I thought we were going crazy, as he went from my happy-go-lucky kid to very different, seemingly overnight. Then I read this and it seemed to click - and helped me understand and navigate.

http://www.waldorfinthehome.org/2012/02/parenting_the_nine_year_old_1.html

 

After reading this, I approached him differently knowing where he was coming from. And it helped. And he did grow out of it. Now he's 15 and we're going through that difficult phase (dare I say harder, LOL!). So you'll be heading in & out of phases I think until the age of 17 or so, when it seems they finally grow out of them all. (I don't know - we're only at 15, but I read others' posts and hope to see a light at the end of the tunnel)

 

Hang in there! It can be hard, but don't despair. And don't beat yourself up over it - you'll have good days & bad days. Just hang in there!!

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We're ALL failing at parenting our tweens.  

 

Because tweens.  

 

My 10 yr old DS is such an awesome kid.  He runs to open doors for me (including our car door).  He goes the extra mile in being helpful, being giving and kind, etc.  At times, I look at him and I think, "YES!  Character training right there, Baby!"

 

And then, quick as a flash, he is my most difficult.  Challenging my authority.  Second guessing.  Talking back.  Mumbling under his breath.  Throwing shade whenever I (specifically me, never his father) corrects him, tries to teach him anything, etc.  You should have seen the attitude the boy gave me when I took him to the batting cage for practice.  

 

Like I didn't know squat, despite the many years I played.  "Are we done yet?  This is boring.  I'm hot.  Oh, let me guess, you want to pitch for <insert sibling name here>, too".  

 

Just...nasty.  And discipline under such circumstances results in a power struggle.  I WIN those power struggles but I'm left wondering...did I really?  

 

And then the next day, he's back to his awesome self again.  I see this as an inner struggle, lol.  Which side will win?  And what am I in for when he actually hits his teens and those hormones surge through his body?  

 

I don't really have any real advice, except to just love him as much as you can.  Build the relationship as well as you can.  

 

A friend of mine, who's successfully launched a number of kids into successful adulthoods once told me, "Rules without relationship will lead to rebellion and do your very best to get them to love you enough that they won't want to hurt you with the choices they make".  

 

I think that's wise.  And it's the approach I'm taking.

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Please don't quote.

 

I feel like such a failure and have shed many tears.  I am at a loss when it comes to ds10.  I'm frustrated with the attitude, I'm not responding well, and I am to the point where I don't enjoy him anymore.  It feels like everything is correcting instead of having any kind of fun together.  Honestly, I feel like the worst mother in the world. 

 

Book recommendations?  Blogs?  Been there, done that and survived encouragement?  I feel so discouraged . . .

 

 

We're ALL failing at parenting our tweens.  

 

Because tweens.  

 

My 10 yr old DS is such an awesome kid.  He runs to open doors for me (including our car door).  He goes the extra mile in being helpful, being giving and kind, etc.  At times, I look at him and I think, "YES!  Character training right there, Baby!"

 

And then, quick as a flash, he is my most difficult.  Challenging my authority.  Second guessing.  Talking back.  Mumbling under his breath.  Throwing shade whenever I (specifically me, never his father) corrects him, tries to teach him anything, etc.  You should have seen the attitude the boy gave me when I took him to the batting cage for practice.  

 

Like I didn't know squat, despite the many years I played.  "Are we done yet?  This is boring.  I'm hot.  Oh, let me guess, you want to pitch for <insert sibling name here>, too".  

 

Just...nasty.  And discipline under such circumstances results in a power struggle.  I WIN those power struggles but I'm left wondering...did I really?  

 

And then the next day, he's back to his awesome self again.  I see this as an inner struggle, lol.  Which side will win?  And what am I in for when he actually hits his teens and those hormones surge through his body?  

 

I don't really have any real advice, except to just love him as much as you can.  Build the relationship as well as you can.  

 

A friend of mine, who's successfully launched a number of kids into successful adulthoods once told me, "Rules without relationship will lead to rebellion and do your very best to get them to love you enough that they won't want to hurt you with the choices they make".  

 

I think that's wise.  And it's the approach I'm taking.

You have been here lately??????????

 

Pam

 

And he is our 8th!!!  (6th boy)  I never expected this.  :(  I wasn't ready!!

 

Pam

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I'm failing as well. Just when I think my 11 year old DD is becoming human again, her monthly hormones send her into a moody, sulky spiral. Or my 9.5 year old starts getting sassy (-er than usual).

 

Most days, I just can't win.

Edited by alisoncooks

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No advice. Just know that you are not alone. I could have written most of these posts about DS who just turned 11.

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Chiming in with the others to say, you're not alone ... you're not failing ... and you're going to make it to the other side, even if you can't see the other side right now.

 

What helped me:

 

1. Toddler picture. I taped one to the inside of the bathroom cabinet, which is where I'd run for "mommy time out" when I felt myself losing my snit. I'd take a deep breath, sometimes a hot bath, and just look at the picture of my sweet little one. I remembered that the toddler age was also rife with challenges and frustrations, but we made it through. It gave me immediate hope that we'd eventually make it through the tweens, and bonus - it gave me an immediate rush of whatever the "love" hormone is. (Secret: I keep a picture of my husband from when we were kids in a different cabinet for the same reason. It immediately brings me back to a place of love. LOL)

 

2. Scaling back on non-essential schooling. I figured out what we could take time off from, and usually it's outlining, poetry, etc. Stuff that I want them to know, but that there's no harm waiting another year or more to get to. That gave us less to fight about, while increasing time we could spend doing something together that was NOT school or home related. With that time, my oldest and I took up chess. We'd sit at the greasy diner in town and play. With my current child, she likes the old church ladies so we spend one day a week volunteering with the retired folks at the church (making sandwiches for the soup kitchen.)  This isn't always easy to find time to do, especially if there are other kids that need attention, but I do treat it as a "class"/therapy and give it priority. It was essential to me that we get time together that was positive - no nagging, no arguing, no need for either of us to have attitude. (Secret: sometimes one of us still brought attitude to our "time out" but these little time outs quickly eliminated them.)  

 

3. Related to #2, prioritizing the relationship. School is important, so very important. And it may even become necessary to enroll a child in the nearest school ... or maybe even a co-op ... or maybe even a "study group" where you swap with another homeschooling parent so each of you gets an hour away from your respective child-in-question. But long after school days are gone, you're still a parent and child. Don't die on the hill of homeschooling, or classical homeschooling, or college prep pressure. Die on the hill of "I love this child and I need to do something/anything to make it feel like less work." Because loving our kids can sometimes be hard work, even if it's not cool to admit that out loud!!

 

My biggest PITA kid is now a senior. He's been giving me grief since before Obama went into the White House. I still make runs to the bathroom to see his cute 3 y/o picture. I still make sure we get "time outs" together (right now we're taking German together at the junior college. I suggested art. This is what he registered us for. Damn kids LOL.) I still have to sometimes outsource some of his classes, thank heavens for the wonderful woman at church who has taken him for two classes every year since 9th grade!! But we have a solid relationship. His outbursts don't feel personal anymore. They've lessened every year as he's matured. Just my luck that he would become fully human again the very year he prepares to move away. The injustice! But he leaves with a good foundation in place, and alive. Because I didn't end up eating him, like I seriously considered back when he was 10.

 

:grouphug:

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My oldest is almost 12, and we are all struggling with something at this age. Hugs!

 

One thing I am trying to remember is to get to the root of it. Yes, I have to address the attitude, but what's at the heart of everything after the attitude adjustment is in check. Keep the lines of communication open. Often times, we, as parents have to react to the situation. Make sure we are proactive too. You say you aren't having fun...make a point to have special time with her weekly. This could be playing a board game or going out for ice cream. Then open up communication. And that is hard sometimes. My son likes to clam up because he doesn't have the words to say. I just talk about the years he is entering and what will make him successful. Sometimes they feel scared and frustrated and just need to vent and be heard. Sometimes they just need a hug.

 

When they were toddlers throwing tantrums, it was scary to them because they didn't understand the big emotions they were having. Of course we didn't stand for tantrums, but sometimes I just hugged them and comforted them through it. Sometimes tweens/teens are the same. They feel everything and don't understand how to process all those emotions. They need to know they're not alone and we are on their side. I still have my son take deep breaths to calm down. Then we can talk. Fighting about whatever issue when they are in rage or fight or flight mode or meltdown is useless. Calm the emotion first and then talk. It can be as simple as "I know you're upset, and I want to hear your feelings on this, but I need you to go sit in your room and calm down first." Then it might be something like, "It's ok to be upset, it's not ok to react this way. You need to have self-control. I understand how you feel, but you will still have a consequence for your actions." But if you have just calmed them down without meeting crazy with more crazy and they feel heard, the consequence is better received and internalized. I'm always, saying to my kids, "Go lay in your bed. You've lost the ability to cope with your emotions. You must need sleep." No point arguing when they are melting down from lack of sleep. Sleep is also a big thing. Sometimes, they don't sleep well at this age.

 

You're definitely not alone, and I am definitely not an expert, and every child deals with this time of life differently. I often say that parenting is more physically challenging when they're little and gets increasingly less physical and more mentally challenging as they get older.

Edited by AdventuresinHomeschooling
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...every child deals with this time of life differently. I often say that parenting is more physically challenging when they're little and gets increasingly less physical and more mentally challenging as they get older.

 

I had not really thought of it that way but yes, I was more physically exhausted when the kids were little.  As they got older my mental exhaustion increased 10 fold (depending on what stage/day we were in).

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An off-beat solution that might help.  If your kid is interested, take up exercise with him/her.  My ds10 expressed interest in learning to run when I decided to start running again.  So 3x a week, he comes with me.  I go a bit shorter distance on those days, and over time, he has built up to running 30 minutes.  During those runs, we really have a totally different sort of relationship than mom/son or teacher/student.  We are just teammates.  It is mutually encouraging, the chit-chat stays very light, etc.  

 

My mom taught me to run when I was 13, and the effect was very similar.  I know several moms who  lift weights with their tweens/teens and also find it extremely helpful because even if the kid is still extremely difficult, there is a 30 minute break in there where the relationship is less strained.  

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Just sending you some ((hugs)). My kids are all grown up now, but I sometimes wish I could go back to those snotty 10 year olds and give them a hug. ;-) I think every parent feels like a failure at some point.

 

My advice:
Try to avoid power struggles. Allow several choices, so those struggles don't come up as often.

Find activities for your ds like Boy Scouts or something where he can have some time to himself with friends in something that is structured. 

Try reading the book: Yes, Your Teen is Crazy: Loving Your Teen Without Losing Your Mind - Your ds isn't a teen, but the info in the book is really useful and will help you get some perspective. 

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My boys are 11 and 12. Besides sufficient food and rest, mine need rules and structure to be happy since they were newborn. Flexible rules or structure just makes my kids confused and annoyed. I babysat plenty of my nephews and nieces being the youngest granddaughter on both sides and they are all different other than none of them being compliant. None of my relatives are law breakers but they love finding legal loopholes for the fun of it.

 

DS12 is happiest when he has a full load of academics. DS11 needs a certain amount of do nothing time as in literally sit or lie down and do nothing. DS11 also loves checklists because he feels accomplished as he finish his tasks. So you really have to gauge base on the child you have.

Edited by Arcadia
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The Hands Free Mama blog and her book, Only Love Today,

has breathed new life into me. I was pretty down on myself, feeling like a failure as a mom, and her encouragement has been the grace I need to move forward, see my kids differently, unclench my hands, and allow real change.

https://www.amazon.com/Only-Love-Today-Reminders-Breathe/dp/0310346746

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I keep this page open and re-read it frequently during the week. One of my sons is being so negative anymore and loves to provoke me and his siblings. So hard not to take personally. It seems I can’t do or say anything right anymore, or that I ever did in his current mind. Sigh. And thank

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This thread is so relevant for where I am right now with DS10.  DS12 is emotional, but it is a whole different scale.  I'm so grateful for those that have shared their wisdom here.

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I have to revisit this thread myself to offer a glimmer of hope. My negative Ned has actually been...NICE...this week. I'm not sure exactly what I can attribute that to but we have done a couple of things differently just since this thread was started.

 

First, I started talking to DS a lot more explicitly (much as I did with his sister) about the emotional and physical turmoil that is puberty. Maybe it was overkill but he's now started saying, hey, Mom, my leg/head/foot hurts. Do you think it's puberty?  :lol:  I kept encouraging DH to do this but he never did so I took the plunge. It really wasn't all that bad or awkward. We agreed to start measuring him more often so he can see how his growth spurt is coming along. The growth makes him ridiculously happy/proud.

 

Second, I am going overboard in praising the things he's done/doing right. I praise him not just in the moment but at random intervals throughout the rest of the day. Hey dude, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated you unloading the whole dishwasher (instead of yelling for your sister to do the other half), volunteering to take the trash out, making me some of your famous peach tea without being asked, etc. He literally came and asked me, today, what else he could do to be helpful. :hurray:

 

I know that, if DS is anything like DD, there will be many more bad days and good days too. But, at least this week, my buddy was back! There is hope!

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Guest

 

This is SO NORMAL for this age. This is why people used to send their adolescents away on apprenticeships or off to boarding school!

 

Adolescents gonna be adolescent.

 

Now, the good news is that they do grow out of it. I'm not sure when, but it does happen. We all did, after all!

 

 

Before twenty-five for my yesteryear's horrid ten year old boy but closer to 30 for his sister, who breezed through the tween years.

 

Going through it all over again with the caboose baby isn't exactly making me feel like Mother of the Year either, lol.

 

I'd add getting yourself a houseplant, pet, daycare child or whatever "love dump" works for you to the list of suggestions. Volunteer work helped me more than a part-time low paying low prestige job, but I did both as well as sharing infant/young child care tips and other things I KNOW I do well on peer support forums and with new/young parents AFK.

 

Date night with DH is extra important too, as long as your marriage is intact; it's probably not a great time to find a new squeeze if you're single.

 

Ds the first described testosterone surges that sounded like hot flashes only with anger instead of heat. Ds the second may not be as eloquent, but the metaphor definitely works to keep my perspective after recently surviving the menopause from hell.

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My DS is entering a growth phase too. I have to keep reminding both of us, out loud, that this is totally normal. DD was equally challenging about two years ago and is on her way out. DS is on his way into the puberty zone. Every once in a while, I can look at him and see the changes. Where his shoulders used to be flat across, he's got triangles (trapezius muscles) sprouting.

 

What works for me...

 

1. Don't push too much. Rather than fighting, separate and take a break from the situation or each other, whatever is causing the frustration. When calm is restored, then we talk or move on.

 

2. Involve DH. DH has really had to step up, not in the heat of the moment but before and after to explicitly talk about appropriate male behavior. Modeling hasn't been, in and of itself, enough. DS used to be my buddy but he really looks to DH for guidance these days and loves spending at least one weekend day in his company alone.

 

3. Wine. So much wine (and a little whining too).

 

4. Really make sure DS is getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods. My DS is a BEAST when he lacks adequate rest. Last night, for ex. I sent him to bed at a quarter to nine and he didn't wake up until 8:30. He needs that more often than not.

On #3....which one of us gets the wine? Lol

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