My oldest is quickly approaching 12. Too quickly, if you ask me! Brandon has always been my easy, agreeable kid. He pretty much potty trained himself, learned to read at three with minimal effort, excelled at his studies, and rarely lied or talked back. He's always been pretty laid back, courteous and kind. He even takes his responsibilities as a big brother pretty seriously and helps out around the house.
For the past few months though, a new child is emerging. Eye rolling, arguing, talking back – the whole gamut of typical preteen behavior has been plaguing our home. At first, I think we were a little hard on him. It was new to us, and the young man he is becoming seems so different than the little boy we knew. In fact, a lot of it is our fault. Instead of embracing the young man we were trying to force him back into being that little boy.
Hormones are probably partially responsible for those less than friendly days, but a lot of the behavior likely stems from the fact he is just trying to spread his wings. He is testing those waters of young adulthood, and the more we tried to hold him back the harder he was forced to fight.
So, my husband and I have mindfully been taking a different direction. Chores were starting to become a major sticking point, so we sat down with him and let him discuss with us what his responsibilities should be and the rewards and consequences for their performance or lack there of. Instant new attitude! I think because we treated him like an adult instead of nagging.
When those emotions do flare, we strive not to get angry. Time-outs just don't work as well. Instead we sit down and have a conversation, allowing him to share his feelings on the matter and calmly voicing ours. “Because I said so” is no longer a good response when he argues. We owe him the same explanations we would give an adult. Mutual respect must be fostered. When our kids grow up, I think it is just as hard on us parents as it is on them.