We’ve all heard about the tantrums of toddlers that can drive parents crazy, but did you know that the tween years can be equally exasperating? Well, I was not prepared for this. I had been warned about the toddler tantrums or the teen defiance but had not heard much about this pre-teen age.
My older son just turned 11 and it has been quite challenging. He’s still a great kid with good social skills, intelligent and kind. However, lately he is much more moody and is constantly instigating trouble with his younger brother. Everything is an argument and there is a lot of “But why can’t I?” going on. He rolls his eyes at things I say and seems more cranky. He also acts like a tough guy with his brother and threatens to hit him. Luckily nothing horrible has happened but it is all quite frustrating.
My initial reaction to a lot of his behavior is to punish him for the talking back or fighting with his brother but all the yelling and grounding might not be effective. I certainly haven’t seen a remarkable change. I think I need to continue to expect respect and good behavior but maybe temper my expectations too. At this age kids are growing and changing and starting puberty so it makes sense that the hormones might be raging. They are navigating tricky social waters and learning to be more independent. As a parent, I need to be understanding to the difficulty this entails even though I may not appreciate his attitude at times.
I’ve realized that it is more important that I keep the lines of communication open with him so that he can come to me with anything that bothers him. Having a strained relationship won’t help this. I need to lay down the law as far as the more critical things like respect, grades, and no violence but maybe I can decide to not sweat the small stuff. I think I need to learn to calm down and not get so infuriated by his defiance and maybe he will calm down faster from his tween-trum (tween tantrum). I still think it is important that he lose fun and privileges for excessive bad behavior since I don’t want to raise a brat. However, I also don’t want him seeing me as a mean dictator. I want him to know I love him no matter what (even if there is some tough love) and I am his biggest fan. I want to try to set some time for Mommy dates when he and I can hang out together without his brother around so he gets a chance to open up to me in a happy setting. I encourage my husband to do the same with each of the boys because I think it’s a different dynamic when we are with both kids.
Well, this is my plan and I’ve only just begun but I think it will be much easier by the time my younger child is in this phase. At least I hope so! During each of these phases of their childhood, I need to keep in mind that it all goes so fast and we are left remembering all the good stuff. They are wonderful children and these are just growing pains for all of us but we’re still blessed for the experience. So enjoy the time!