Early adolescence is time of great adjustment for children and their parents. At this age, children begin to actively seek more freedom from their parents to discover who they are, who they want to be, and what they like. Suddenly, they want to spend less time with their parents and more with other people—their friends. They begin to morph from precious, always-ready-to-please, and endearingly positive children to disagreeable, moody, and sulky little adults. While this developmental stage is tough for parents like you, this is even tougher for your children.
In my book, Train Up a Child, I talked about eight Predictive Social Values, which I will share here, to teach you how you can help your kids through early adolescence. These values are essential for your child to successfully manage the transition from childhood to early adolescence and prepare them for middle school.
Here are the eight Predictive Social Values that will guide your through preparing your child for early adolescence and middle school:
As your child enters middle school, there is greater emphasis on interpersonal relationships outside the family. This is when children seek companionship and guidance from other people. That’s why, as a parent, it’s absolutely necessary that you teach your child to be considerate toward others. They have to learn that it is better to give good will than receive it from others.
Early adolescent development can affect a lot of things in your child. Their bodies, their personalities, and their attitude can drastically change. These changes should not stop you and your child from enjoying this stage in their life. Show them healthy and wholesome ways to manage these changes. Come up with creative and enjoyable ways to express their moods, take interest in what they like, and encourage them to take up a sport or to pursue their interests.
Learning to work with others is a necessity to survive in this world. While your child is beginning to understand that, it’s important for you to instill in them the value of hard work and teamwork. Your child needs to learn to rely on others and be someone others can rely on.
Attractiveness has less to do with physical attributes and more to do with personality. Your child needs to understand that to attract friends and companions, they have to display the qualities they like in other people. Everyone wants open-minded, supportive, and thoughtful friends. Your child has to learn to be the friend they want to have.
Teaching your child mindfulness coupled with self-control early on will help them in the long run. They will grow into a mature adult who is able to maintain healthy and good relationships with others. You will also be blessed with a well-adjusted child who is willing to listen to reason and voluntarily adjust their personal conduct and indulgences not because they fear you but because they love and respect you.
Promoting sensitivity toward others is very important. Children at this age are just beginning to understand the concepts of expectations, behaviors, and consequences. As parents, you have to be clear about the beliefs and behaviors that you accept and reject. Teach your child, through words and actions, to respect differences and appreciate diversity.
At this age, looking at your child may feel like looking at a stranger sometimes. To stop this sense of disconnection, you have to communicate openly with your child and show them that you take interest in what they like and in what they want, and you want to listen to their thoughts and ideas. You also have to teach your child (by example) how to properly communicate their feelings, needs, and values—teaching them to think before speaking, minding their tone, timing, and message.
Success should be measured not only by the goals you have accomplished, but also the people you’ve helped along the way. Teaching your child to be efficacious and empathetic will help them gain more fulfillment in their successes. If people had more empathy, many of the problems we have today would be solved.
Do you want more parenting tips for early adolescence? Read my book, Train Up a Child, and learn childcare hacks that’ll make parenting more enjoyable for you and for your child. If you want to share your parenting stories with me, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.