Understanding Your Preteen
Preteen is a life stage that can be confusing and hard for both preteens and parents, especially since preteens often desire to be more independent, but they are not yet ready for complete independence.
Parents sometimes struggle to find the balance between encouraging independence and still being in control of what their child does. Help—and stay connected to your child
Talk about safety
Safety comes first. Before you allow your child more independence and freedom in their activities, explain to them how to stay safe and how to get help if trouble occurs. Go over any rules that they will need to follow (e.g., ask permission before making plans, walk to school with a friend, etc.) so that you are comfortable as well
Go step by step
It takes a lot of trial and error to find the right level of independence for your child at each stage of their development. Start small. For example, start with a small amount of freedom like coming home alone after school and completing a short list of chores, like feeding the dog and emptying the dishwasher to see whether your child handles it well. See how they do, and adjust the plan if needed.
Make decisions together
When your child asks for more freedom with an activity (e.g., going to a friend’s house), ask for their input. What will they do? How will they get home? What can they do if something goes wrong? Accept their ideas when you can, but let them know you make the final decisions.
Listen and be flexible, but still be in charge
Sometimes, your child will find reasons to question your decisions on their activities. They may even criticize you and think you are unfair based on what their friends are allowed to do. Let them know that every family and child is different, but in your home, you expect them to follow your rules. Listen to what they have to say, and be flexible on the rules where you feel you can. It will mean a lot to your child to know you can be reasonable and that you respect and value what they have to say.
Speak with other parents
Talk to other parents about how they manage challenges. It is a good way to learn new tips and ideas and can also help you feel more supported. Remember, it is a good thing that your child is now learning to take on more responsibilities. They will be more prepared to successfully handle life’s challenges as they get older.
Source: The Psychology Foundation of Canada