My daughter is eleven years old turning twelve next month. She's a typical pre-teen who is bossy, a little bit awkward socially, loves boys, friends, sports and gadgets. She is so much fun to be around, except when she's moody.
I am scared for these upcoming years and I want to know how to be the best Mom that I can be to my little girl. It scares me that sometimes already, she will lock her door and won't want to talk to me about personal problems. How can I encourage and ensure an open line of communication in these upcoming and challenging years? Petrified Parent
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Dear Petrified Parent
Adolescence is an exciting and complicated time of development and discovery. Something to remember is that no matter how tough it gets, your pre-teen daughter loves you and needs your unconditional support and guidance. It's crucial to her development into becoming self-loving, secure and healthy. Here are a few things to remember about your pre-teen:
- Continue to strengthen a relationship with her that includes trust, honesty, open lines of communication, and setting limits.
- Set aside quality time to spend together every week and listen carefully to the things she is saying to you; it's valuable insight into her thoughts and feelings.
- Be a good role model in every which way. Monitor how you: eat, exercise, handle stress, and avoid smoking or drinking alcohol in her presence.
- Be calm around her. If you're balanced, then your daughter will feel that she can handle all of the curve balls life throws her way.
- Talk about your values, and teach her responsibility. Provide her with structure and rules and enforce consequences for breaking those rules. Trust her decision making skills and encourage her to talk to you about everything; even the things that she's done wrong - and don't judge her after she's opened up to you.
- Let her know that she can always ask for help when it comes to school, peer pressure, body image, drugs, sex, etc...
Remember that you can make a difference in her life. You guys are lucky to have each other. Teens can push your buttons and be very frustrating, but it's a phase that will pass with time. Be patient, yet firm with her and you will both be glad in time that you stood by each other's side when times were tough.