Posted by: coachingparents | August 26, 2008

How Tweens and Teens Can Establish Healthy Relationships

As the parent of a tween about to enter middle school, what I have observed in the past year is a shift in the way children in 5th grade relate to each other as opposed to their earlier elementary school years.  They begin to take notice of what types of clothes the other kids are wearing; they notice the opposite sex in a different way; and they are beginning to find their niche whether in sports, academics or social surroundings.  This also triggers the awareness of who is better at what activity which can lead to conflict amongst friends.

Each child has individual strengths and often when they see others excel at something they themselves wish was a strength of their own, this can lead to unconscious envy, ridicule and sometimes even bullying.  Kids don’t mean to act out their frustration using these means, but if they aren’t confident in their own abilities or encouraged to do their best, their self- esteem suffers which leads to acting out their lack of confidence in many other ways; this can also impact the choices they will make later in life when faced with peer pressure.

So what can a parent do to be aware of their child’s insecurities and guide them toward strengthening their inner confidence?

  • Encourage and acknowledge the accomplishments your child achieves.  Your son may not be the best player on the team, but by focusing on all of the things he did right, verses accentuating the mistakes he may have made, this will increase your child’s confidence in his abilities.
  • Make sure to correct your child’s criticism of another as soon as you hear it.  We are all guilty of pointing out another person’s flaws, especially when its something we do well ourselves, but by bringing your child’s awareness to how hurtful her comments can be or pointing out the things the other child does right, she will learn to be kinder and gentler on herself when she makes a mistake.
  • Don’t shame your child or criticize their mistakes.  When a child falls short of an accomplishment they had hopes of achieving, they feel badly enough on their own without the added pressure or disapproval from a parent.  Again this is a time to point out all of the things they did right.  If your child needs to indulge in an emotional state for a time, allow them to move the feelings out of their body completely.  This will balance their inner self and prepare them for the next experience.

These are just a few ways parents can assist their child with building a stronger, more confident sense of self.  Children face a lot of challenges as they learn to grow into their bodies and if parents can tune into how their children relate to the world around them, they can empower their child to focus on building their own character from the inside out.  This will give them higher self- esteem and confidence which will ultimately decrease their need to bring other’s down. 
©2008 by Tara Paterson, ACPIT Certified Coach for Parents of Intuitives, All Rights Reserved             
(co-author Parenting Intuitive Children, New Page Books, spring ’09)


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