Try the indirect approach. When you sit down, without any questions, and just listen, your child is more likely to open up and give you the information that you're seeking.
Tip: Sometimes, you can use this time to give advice, but try not to step in and solve all their problems at once.
When there is a triggering event, your tween may experience an unpleasant feeling. Teaching our child to pause and think before acting, and to consider how their best self would react, is essential. Try the RULER approach (Recognize Emotion, Understanding Emotion, Labeling Emotion, Expressing Emotion, Regulating Emotion). Click the Learn More to dive deeper into the RULER approach and to learn about the 6 S's.
3. BE their Calm Place
When your child is upset because they weren't invited to the sleepover, or saw friends hanging out without them on social media, continue to be their source of calm. Instead of overreacting and jumping in to solve their problem, keep the drama to a minimum by not adding fuel to their flame. Resist the urge to talk to the parents of the tween involved and resist talking to (or about) the tween.
4. Ask Them What They Need
Acknowledging their feelings and providing a sense of empathy switches the situation so that your tween is more willing to communicate.
5. Provide Visual Supports
Use posters or pictures with problem-solving steps or routines. Use color-coded schedules and folders. For homework support, try the Get Ready, Do, Done strategy.
6. Offer them Choices
Your child is trying to develop a sense of autonomy. By offering them two choices, they feel a sense of independence.
Example: Do you want to clean your room before dinner or after.
7. Invite them to ask questions
Talk openly about the things they are experiencing. If you don't know the answer to something, pause the conversation and get back to them. Having these ongoing conversations helps your tween feel comfortable, which will make them want to reach out to you even more. Be aware of your own awkward feelings. It can come off as closed off, and your tween might feel embarrassed for asking.
8. Time Together
It's often difficult to get your Tween to open up and talk. Schedule time to be with your child. It's important that you are providing undivided attention where you both are not working or on your device. Providing these interpersonal skills will benefit your Tween in the future.
9. Mood Meter
Recognizing and understanding how to best meet your tween's needs can be tricky. Try using a Mood Meter. This color-coded chart is a great way to graph their feelings based on your tweens energy and pleasantness level. For more on Mood Meter click here.
10. Post a Daily Schedule
Clear and consistent routines and procedures offer a much needed structure for your tween.
Ex: After school activities (snack, homework, sports practice).