All parents have been in that awkward position where they need to discipline their children. It can be heart-breaking to see your children tear up as you try to help them to understand what they did wrong and why they shouldn’t do it again.
The challenge becomes greater as your children grow up and start to develop the independent thoughts that come with a maturing mind. As they enter the “tween” years – which basically covers the seven to twelve age range – you may find it even harder to convince them to act the way you feel is appropriate, plus it becomes more difficult to discipline them when they have done wrong.
So what do you do? Here we look at a few ideas that we have gleaned from our own experiences as the parents of children in the tween years.
The only thing more embarrassing to a parent than getting into a shouting match with your toddler is getting into one with a tween who may have the ability to point out flaws in the things that you are saying.
This means that you need to stay calm when disciplining your tween kids, as flying off the railings and shouting at them will usually be responded to in kind. By keeping calm and ensuring the tone of your voice stays low you engage your child in a dialog, which gives you the opportunity to talk in more detail about what happened and why it was wrong. Remember that kids at this age are often smarter than we give them credit for, so treat them with the respect that deserves while ensuring you maintain the authority in the relationship.
Make The Punishment Fit The Crime
If you do need to consider a punishment for your tween’s actions, such as grounding or increasing household chores, you need to make sure that it fits the crime.
Being unfair when disciplining your children can lead to a lot of resentment building up over time, which could get expressed in a number of ways. Your tweens might start acting out whenever you try to discipline them, or may become uncomfortable when talking to you because they feel they will be treated harshly.
Always consider whether the punishment you have in mind is actually fair and take some time to explain to your child why that decision was made.
Set House Rules
Most parents have house rules in place for their children to follow from a young age. Thinks like bed times and making sure they eat their greens are common, but they can also become a little more difficult to enforce once children get older and become more comfortable with the idea of saying “no” and rebelling against the house rules.
The key here is to ensure the rules make sense. For example, telling your tween it is his or her responsibility to clean up after meals without offering an explanation why could lead to refusals to follow the rule. Explaining that the reason for this is to spread the work that goes into preparing and clearing up after meals fairly around the family may make the rule more palatable. Apply this thinking to your other house rules as well.
Don’t Be Judgmental
Most tweens aren’t naughty just for the sake of being naughty. There is almost always some form of logic that goes into their actions, even if it only makes sense in the mind of a child.
Your role as a parent is to try to understand this logic, rather than rushing into judgment the moment your tween does something wrong. This advice is closely related to the first point we made about staying calm, as by doing so you create an environment where your children feel more comfortable in talking about the reasons behind their actions.
This then opens the way for you to understand the situation a little better and offer the information your tweens need to understand why their actions were wrong.
Set A Good Example
Discipline always starts with the parent, but this extends far beyond the setting of rules and the use of sanctions. All of your actions are observed by your children and they will often look to imitate the things their parents do around others.
This is especially true of tweens, as their minds and bodies have developed to the point where they are actually capable of imitating actions that they may previously have not been able to do.
Think about it like this. If your solution to relationship problems as a couple is to scream and shout at each other, you may be inadvertently showing your tween that this is the way to deal with disagreements, which could result in your child doing the same later on. Work on setting a great example by being the sort of person you want your tween to be.