Praise and encouragement
are powerful motivators. At this age children might seem more self-sufficient, but your child still needs your approval. When you praise your child for positive behaviour, it can encourage him to keep behaving like that.
Handling disrespectful behaviour
Rude or disrespectful behaviour is pretty common in children in the pre-teen years – although not all children behave this way.
If this kind of behaviour is an issue for your family, setting clear rules lets your child know what you expect. For example, you could say, ‘We speak respectfully in our family. This means we don’t call people names’.
Involving your child in these discussions means you can later remind her that she helped make the rules, and that she agreed to them.
Modelling these rules in your own behaviour shows that you mean what you say.
If you need to talk to your child about some rude behaviour, staying calm and picking your moment will help the conversation go better. It can also help if you focus on your child’s behaviour. Instead of saying, ‘You’re rude’, you could try saying something like, ‘I feel hurt when you speak like that to me’.
Common concerns about pre-teen behaviour
Fighting with siblings
Teenage sibling fighting can be stressful, but it’s normal and helps children learn important life skills – like how to sort out problems, deal with different opinions and treat others with respect.
When you coach your children in sorting out their conflicts, you help them develop these skills. You can also motivate them to resolve fights themselves. For example, if they’re fighting over the computer, you could take away their access to it until they can work out a solution together.
Peer influence is when you do something you wouldn’t otherwise do because you want to feel accepted and valued by others. It isn’t just doing something against your will, and can actually be positive. Sometimes it might involve following scenes, trends and fashions to feel part of a social group – this is normal for older children and teenagers.
If your child is confident, with a strong sense of himself and his values, it’s more likely he’ll know where to draw the line when it comes to peer influence.