Tags Posts tagged with "tweens"

tweens

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I think as moms we all have this idea of how “the talk” will go, or how we will handle sensitive questions that our children throw at us… but the moment almost never goes as planned, because usually the moment is totally unpredictable and happens when we least expect it!! Such was the case when my 9-year-old son asked me about periods last week.

 

 

 

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I honestly wasn’t ready for this talk with him! I have two teenage daughters who I literally sat down when they were 8 or 9 and very carefully explained everything to them. I planned for it. I bought books and everything! Maybe it was easier for me because they were girls? I was a girl, so I felt like I could relate to them! But when my SON came to me one evening while I was working and told me my 17-year-old daughter told him “girls have something happen to them every month that hurts and makes them grouchy”, I kind of went into panic mode.  This is how the conversation went:

My son: “I want to know EVERYTHING, mom”

Me: “Are you… sure?” (Kid, this is your escape. Run for the hills!)

Son: “Yes. Everything.”

Me: Deep breath and silent prayers…”Uhh, ok”

“Well, as you know, girls and boys have different body parts, right?”

Son: “Yeah! I have a penis!!”

Me: “Right…well, girls have other parts that help them carry a baby inside their body.”

Son: “Like, their stomach right? I have a stomach too.”

Me: “No, babies don’t grow inside stomachs. They grow inside a ladies uterus, which is like a pouch down here” (motions where it is)

Son: “Ohhh, like a sack?! I have one of those too!”

Me: (heaven help me) “Well, actually this is on the inside of a woman’s body, down here (motions to where it is) And every month it gets ready in case a baby starts growing there. It gets really soft and comfortable and pillowy, the perfect place for a baby!”

At this point my son is completely intrigued. He looks as if someone just handed him 10 packs of Pokeman cards. And I’m patting myself on the back because I’m totally rocking this talk! Everything is going so smoothly…

I continue: “So, if a lady doesn’t get pregnant that month (please don’t ask me how she gets pregnant or I’ll poke my eyes out) her body gets rid of the old stuff in her uterus and it starts all over again”

My son: “Cool, ok, so how does she get rid of the old stuff?”

Me: “Well, that’s a period! It comes out as blood and stuff, from her vagina. She bleeds.”

My son’s expression instantly changes from intrigue to horror (I caught the moment with a photo. See below)

 

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Me: (nervous laugh) Yep, so that’s a period. Aren’t bodies amazing?!! And sometimes it hurts and sometimes it makes girls a little grouchy. And that’s why we buy lots of pads and tampons around here…

Son: “Oh my gosh!” (makes connection) “the pads and tampons catch the BLOOD?!!”

He looks equally disgusted and mesmerized at the same time.

Me: “Well, yes. But even though women don’t like getting their periods, they are very grateful that their bodies can grow babies. Women’s bodies are beautiful and sacred and special.”

Son: “Well, that’s for sure”

This is where I felt like I might cry a little…

Me: “So, how are you feeling about this??”

Son: “Well, I actually feel really grateful that I am a boy right now. And I have something I would like to say to the girls…”

I wasn’t expecting what happened next.

He ran upstairs, found his sisters, and very sincerely and seriously said “Girls, I AM SO SORRY! I am so sorry you have to have periods every month for like 3 or 5 days, and I understand why sometimes you don’t want to talk to me.”

They giggled and laughed, but he was super serious about it, and it was slightly adorable.

Our talk may have been a little awkward, a little unpredictable, and a little messy, but we survived, and it went ok. I don’t know that there is a “right” way to have these talks, because every child and every parent is different. I think the important thing is to know that they will happen so prepare yourself as much as possible! And be sincere about it when they do happen. Talk to your child on their level, using ideas that they can understand and relate to.

The best part is watching my son revel in this new found information. He has a little more confidence now, like he’s discovered a hidden level on a video game. It’s cute, and he’s totally diggin’ it. I also love that it taught him compassion and respect.

And now this mama can breathe for a while…until he wants to know EVERYTHING about how babies are made…

goyag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The other day, my 16-year-old daughter casually brought up the fact that as of September of next year, she will officially be “an adult”.  Eighteen. I think I choked on the water I was drinking because my mom brain couldn’t comprehend this fact – because it can’t be right!  There is no possible way my baby girl is turning 18, and more importantly there is no possible way I am old enough to have an adult daughter!

 

 

 

 

She just started her first day of Kindergarten.

She just learned how to read.

I just sang her lullabies to sleep.

I just taught her how to tie her shoes.

Didn’t she just start middle school??

SIGH.

The fact that my baby girl is growing up so quickly is both a joy to watch and a sobering reminder of how quickly her childhood has gone by.  I also have a 13-year-old daughter and 9 year-old-son, and now more than ever I am cherishing these formative years, and learning that the older they get, the less of a direct influence we have on them.  Our time spent with them becomes less as school, friends and other activities slowly seep into their schedules.  It’s a natural progression of them becoming more independent, but at the same time they still need to feel close to us, and they still need parenting. How do we bridge that gap as parents?  How do we maintain a close relationship with them the older they get? Here are some habits I have formed that have helped me to stay close to my children during their teen years.  Even if your children are younger, they are good habits to start practicing now.

1. Make time each and every day to talk about their day.  We all get busy, and we happen to fall into “habit phrases” we say to our kids such as “I love you”, and “how was your day?” These are often met with habit answers our kids form, like “love you too” and “fine”.  Bottom line is it’s not much of a connection or a conversation.  Every day I spend about an hour and a half driving my kids to and from school.  I have designated this as catch up time. I ask my kids what activities/projects they have coming up, what friend drama is going on, and more engaging questions so I really learn about their day. We also use this time to laugh and joke around and sing along to the radio.  Sometimes you have to create quality time, even if it’s during running errands!  The point is have daily quality conversations – any way you can get them!

2.  Eat dinner together.  I can’t stress this one enough.  There are lots of reasons to make this a family habit, and I believe it becomes even more important the older they get!  Here are five good reasons to make family dinners a regular habit.

3. Put electronic devices away in the car and at the dinner table. We don’t allow phones at the dinner table, because that is family time, and I don’t like my kids being glued to them in the car either, because that is also a great time to corner them for some good conversation! I am on my computer a lot because I work from home, but I need my kids to know they are my first priority, so I have to designate times that electronics are simply put away.

4. Know their technology.  Are you familiar with what apps your kids are using, and their activity on these apps?  I have accounts on all of the same social media platforms my children do, and I make it a habit to check in on their accounts to see what they’re posting and what others are posting as well. Get to know the latest trends when it comes to teens and technology.  The worst thing you can do is be in the dark when it comes to their online activity.  If you want to stay connected with your teen, that should also include their life online.

5. Get to know their friends.  If your child is mentioning names you’ve never heard or suddenly wanting to hang out with kids you don’t know, this is a warning sign to get more involved.  It is imperative that you know your child’s friends, and not only know them, but get to know them.  Have them over and chat with them.  Build a relationship of trust with them.  This will help them and your children be more open about their activities and who they’re with in the future.

6. Make physical touch a priority. “Mother of Family Therapy” psychotherapist Virginia Satir said that people “need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day for growth.” This most definitely applies to teenagers too!  Just because they have grown older, doesn’t mean the hugs need to grow old too. Make it a priority to hug your kids as they get older, touch their arm while they’re talking to you, mess up your son’s hair playfully, or rub their back while watching TV.  Give them hugs good night! Humans need touch at every stage of life.

7. Be interested in their interests.  Trust me, the last thing I want to do is play Minecraft.  But I’ve done it.  I don’t really want to watch Dr. Who either, but I have.  Why?  Because my son is obsessed, and I want him to know that his world is important to me.  What he loves is important, because I love him. It doesn’t mean you have to join them in activities you find boring all the time, but make it a point to be excited about the things they are excited about!  Rave about the new world they built, ask about the series they’re reading or new band they love to listen to. This helps your child feel validated.  It comes in handy when they’re older and have bigger serious interests like boyfriends and girlfriends!  Keep those lines of communication open!

8. Say sorry.  As your kids get older they need to see your faults, and they also need to see you admitting to them… and when necessary apologizing for them too.  Faults should never be something we try to hide, or make our children feel embarrassed about having. Showing humility to your child and saying sorry to them when you’ve done wrong strengthens your relationship and teaches unconditional love and acceptance. They will be more willing to come to you with their mistakes in the future when they see that you’re human too. We teach our children consequences when they do something wrong, and we should teach them we are willing to accept consequences also.

9. Share a hobby.  As noted above, you will not share all of your child’s interests, and they certainly won’t share all of yours! However, it’s important to find one or two activities that you do enjoy doing together. Make it your “thing”.  Whether it’s board games, gardening, hiking, movies, going to concerts, sewing or cooking.  Find something, and do it together regularly!  These are great memory makers!

10. Let them fail.  From the first day we became parents, it was survival mode!  We spent our days feeding, nurturing and keeping our little ones safe on a day to day basis. It is hard to break that habit of wanting to keep them safe at all times, and being there for them 24/7, but it’s necessary.  Our children will get hurt, both physically and emotionally and we can’t always prevent it, and that’s a good thing, I promise.  They have their own journey to travel, and need to learn how to deal with disappointment and pain. Micro-managing every aspect of their life can protect them from the world, but it won’t allow them to develop the necessary independent skills they need to thrive as an adult. We can’t always prevent failure and pain in their lives, but we can be a place for them to land when they’re hurting.  A safe place they will always call home.

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At some point we have to let go of our kids and let them start becoming independent.  Unfortunately, that exact time is not specified in any parenting book, ever.  There are lots of opinions and ideas, but only you can decide when your kid is old enough to venture out on their own.

I posed this question to a group of moms and of course there were so many different answers. (I’ll share my opinion with you at the end.)

“Depends on the kid. My son had to wait till he was 14, but my daughter was 11 or 12. Just depends on their individual maturity level.”

“My parents left me in 7th grade to shop and 8th grade to the movies with a group of friends. Of course the world has changed some since then.”

“Hmm…I think I was 13 or 14. These days things are so different though! I don’t know!”

“Never…I would never drop my kid or let them go anywhere alone! even with friends. We live in a sick, sick world and it scares me to think about it. Just my honest opinion.”

“The mall is a never the one here I don’t feel good about. If they want to go I take them and stay in the mall. The movies they were 15 or with another adult besides us at 12! They have never gone with just a group of friends.”

I cannot tell you how old I was when I went out with friends alone.  I do remember being 15 and riding with an older friend to church or football game.  In the end these are the most common thoughts on allowing kids to go to places without their parents.

  • Kids should always be in groups, never alone, not even in pairs.
  • It depends on their maturity level.  Some 12-year-olds could handle the movie theater better than some 15-year-olds.  You know your kid, go with that gut feeling.
  • Parents or a trusted adult should drop off and pick up. It’s probably not the best idea to call Uber or send them on public transportation until they are at least 15-16-years-old.
  • If you are super worried about it, let them go “alone.” That means you let them think they are alone and then follow them. Then you can see what they are doing and if there is anything that bothers you, you’re there.  Eventually, they need to experience some independence. When they are 12 they are only 6 years from being an adult! Let them go a little at a time and it will be easier for everyone in the long run.

How old do you think kids should be before you let them go to a movie or the mall without adult supervision?

 

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I have three children in school now. One is always super talkative about her day when she comes home. I know who she ate lunch with, what her teachers said/did, friendship drama and what her best friend wore. I love that she’s so communicative, but alas, every child is different. I also have two others who I have to pry a little a lot to get any information out of them!  It’s not that they’re secretive,  just that they would rather spend their time doing something else. As their parent, it’s important to me that I know about their day.  It’s a time to find out about how they feel, what they’re concerned about, and all the good and bad things they have to deal with on a daily basis. Talking about your child’s day with them is a great way to bond, and a great way to validate them as well.  Sometimes as parents we have to pry a little deeper than “How was your day?”, because let’s face it – most kids are still learning how to communicate their feelings.  They need a little help!  Here are some tips to keep in mind when asking your child about school:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ask open-ended questions.  If you ask a question that can be answered with one word (yes or no) you will probably get a one word answer. Example:  “Did you have a good day?” Yes…
  • State facts before asking a question to ease in to it. Example: You have gym at a different time this year.  What’s that like?
  • Avoid using negative/positive words and phrases in your questions – you want your child to lead the tone of the conversation, not you.

Here are some examples of open-ended questions that should guarantee more then a yes or no answer from your child. Try jotting down more questions that come to mind before your kids get home from school.  They make great conversation starters and good dinner talk!  They will also give you a better idea of what your child is experiencing on a daily basis.

  • What was the best part of your day?  What was the worst?
  • Who did you sit with at lunch today?  What did you talk about?
  • What games did you play at recess?
  • What’s something silly that happened today?
  • If I called your teacher, what do you think she would say about you?
  • What was the most boring moment of your day?
  • Who’s the funniest person in your class? Why?
  • What was your favorite part of lunch?
  • If you could trade seats with someone in class who would it be?  Why?
  • What did you learn today?
  • If you could make the rules in class, what would they be?
  • How did you help someone today?

If you suspect your child is having social issues at school with friends, or is experiencing bullying, focus on questions that deal with less structured times like lunch and recess. “What did most kids do at recess today?” or “Is there anyone that could have used a time out today? Why?”

Sometimes it just takes a little creativity and persistence to get your child talking. Starting this habit now will also help your child come to you as they grow older!  (and we all want that!)

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Having three children of my own, screen time has always been a constant struggle.  I did my best when they were younger to limit the amount of time spent in front of the TV, but they sure loved their kid movies! How much is too much?  And how can the amount of time they spend in front of the TV when they’re young effect them when they’re older?  The answer may surprise you.

 

 

 

The average time a child spends watching television on a daily basis is approximately 1.5 hours.  According to a recently published study, every additional hour added to this, a child increases his chances of being bullied by 11%.

The study, which is published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics combined data from 991 girls and 1,006 boys from Canada. Data included the amount of time spent watching TV and the behavioral characteristics of the child. Years later, when the children reached 11 or 12 years old, the researchers asked them how much bullying (physical and verbal) they received.

The results showed that children who spent more time in front of a TV screen were more likely to be bullied in their preteen years than children that pursued other interests.

Professor at the University of Montreal and author of the study Linda Pagani believes that the reason may be due to the children’s lack of socialization skills. When children are glued to the TV they miss out on socializing with siblings and parents. “Excessive viewing time during the early years can create a time debt for pursuits involving social play,” she said.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics children over two years old should watch no more than two hours of quality TV shows a day.

It is recommend that toddlers engage in these age appropriate activities the rest of the time:

Play. Engage infants and toddlers at play. “It’s the primary way by which children should learn to make sense of the world they are in.”
Interact. Visual stimulation is important. Babies should be presented with activities requiring movement and interaction. “Children should get real-time reactions from people and things which TV cannot provide because it’s a one-way medium.”
Read your baby storybooks. Remember to also let him quietly play by himself by giving him a board book or soft blocks.

How much screen time do you allow your children?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get my son to tell me about his day. “What did you do today?” – me, genuinely interested in his day. “Nothing.” – him, actually believing he did nothing, all day.

 

 

 

 

Then he gets on his phone, with his friends, and he can’t stop talking about his bae and how the teacher was tweakin’ because nobody had their homework.  It’s like an entirely new language!

Here are a few of the newest slang words found in your teens texts and Instagram feeds.

Which ones do you know? Which ones do you use?

On Fleek — Awesome, the best ever, looking good

Bae — Before All Else; Best friend in the whole universe

Throwing Shade — Talking trash

Deuces — Goodbye, See you later

No Chill — Not acting in a rational matter, acting crazy

Ratchet — messed up, stinky, ugly, gross

Ship — Relationship they want to happen

Tweakin’ — Freaking out, overreacting

Stank Face — Look on your face when you are extremely upset

Go Beast Mode — Flip out, lose control

Basic — People who like mainstream music and current pop culture

Check out The Online Slang Dictionary if some of your kid’s words just don’t make sense to you.

 

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When I became a first time mom, one of my greatest fears about parenting was one day, having to have “the talk” with my baby girl.  Now don’t laugh, but the thought of having to do this was seriously a huge anxiety nightmare for me!  I grew up in a very “hush hush” home when it came to things like sex and our bodies and how they work.  I remember the day I first got my period.  I was 13 and I was so nervous to tell my mom because she had never talked about it with me before.  I found out about these things through friends and books like “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.”  And boy, was that a confusing book when you had no one to discuss it with! When I finally did tell her, she promptly took me to the store, bought pads and some Midol and told me to read the directions on the package.  My mom did her best, and was great at many things, but teaching me about womanhood was not one of them.  So, perhaps now you can understand my anxiety as a new mom?

The years passed and something amazing happened.  My little girl grew up to be a very curious chatterbox.  She asked me and my husband about everything under the sun! I loved this relationship that we had.  I learned to be open and honest with her.  She made it surprisingly easy.  When she helped me change her baby boy cousin’s diaper, we talked about body parts.  When I became pregnant with her sister, she wasn’t curious about how her sister got in there, all she wanted to know was how she would get out! So I told her.  We looked at pictures, and I answered all of her questions.  I never told her more than what she wanted to know.  I allowed her to dictate when and what she was ready to learn.  I was also careful to tell the truth, but I used words and phrases that were easy for her little mind to absorb and understand.

When she was around 10 and started to have crazy mood swings and daily crying spells, that was my cue that a serious period talk needed to go down, and it did.  She was so relieved that all the emotions she was feeling actually had meaning and purpose, and more importantly, that she wasn’t alone.  I felt so empowered being able to have these conversations with my daughter that I never had with my own mother.  The more we casually chatted, the easier it became.  When she did get her first period at the age of 11, she was more than ready, and as silly as it sounds, that was a proud mama moment for me.  Knowing that she wasn’t nervous or scared or embarrassed was HUGE.

My second daughter was naturally more reserved.  Despite us being an open and honest family when it came to things like periods, underwear and bodily functions, she was more quiet and didn’t like openly discussing these things.  I had to take a different approach with her.  Because she was more private, I purchased the book The Care and Keeping of You:  A Body Book for Younger Girls I gave it to her when she was about 9, and she locked herself in her room and read and looked at it for hours.  It really had everything in it that she needed to know for her age, and it was enough for her.  When she got her first period, she wrote me a letter.  It was so her!!  I appreciated that, and I remember going up to her room and sitting on her bed and talking for a good hour.  She was now ready to have a good long talk with her mom.  I learned at that moment that “the talk” isn’t necessary.  It’s a series of conversations and teaching moments that teach our children about growing up, and in that process they learn to respect and trust us as their parents.

We now have an 8-year-old son as well, which is a whole new ball game!  While browsing through my Google history on my phone, I recently noticed an inquiry for “boobs”.  Knowing he is the only one who regularly plays on my phone, I knew it came from him. I used this as a teaching opportunity.  I didn’t want him to feel shamed or embarrassed for something he was simply curious about.  So we talked about it.  We discussed why women have breasts, what they are used for, and that they should be respected.  He was good with that.  He now knows that he can turn to his mom for answers instead of Google!

I think long gone are the days where we need to sit our children down at a certain age and have “the talk” with them.  I am grateful that “the talk” is a series of conversations in our home, and that these talks bring about so much more than teaching opportunities.  They provide a true way to bond with your child, while building that relationship of trust and respect that is so important.

If your children are still young, these teaching opportunities happen naturally!  Don’t side-step them.  Here are some tips from my 16 years of being a mom:

  • Teaching opportunities sneak up on you when least expected. It’s always good to discuss with your partner or spouse how you will handle these questions so that you are both on the same page.  You don’t want to complicate things by mommy saying one thing, and daddy saying another!
  • Know what terminology and approach you want to use ahead of time, so when questions do pop up, you’re a little more ready.
  • Be honest.  Using frilly words and phrases when talking about sex and their bodies doesn’t provide any purpose.  Use proper terminology like penis and vagina, but do scale down information to be age appropriate.  Sometimes all a four-year-old needs to know is that love makes a baby.  You probably don’t need to explain the entire process of sex.  Let their questions and age dictate what they are ready to hear.
  • Do provide appropriate and educational books in the home, so that your child doesn’t have to rely on friends or the internet for information.  Let them know you want to be the one they talk to when questions arise.
  • Teach them from a young age that our bodies are amazing and capable gifts!  They are never something to be embarrassed about, and they are not alone.