When the Going Gets Tough: Instilling Tween Perseverance
Tweens are molded by their surroundings; not only the people and friends they share their life with, but the situations that they’re going to face every day. Although none of these outcomes are predictable, you can help them develop a sense of self and perseverance by following a few simple steps. Perseverance also ties into self-esteem, so helping them develop their sense of self and the will to keep pushing boundaries and themselves is essential in their developing stages.
Make sure they participate in activities – Sports, extra-curricularactivities and anything that will help them develop a passion and sense of entitlement to a particular field is crucial in working on perseverance. For example, if your tween has been part of a soccer team for little over a year and they’re enjoying it, it might be time to put them into little league or help them reach their goals in other ways. Fitness is also essential for growing boys and girls trying to go through the different stages of life.
Always encourage them to try harder – When things like test results and assignments come back home, go over what they think they did right and what they did wrong. Being a friendly and approachable role model will more than likely incline them to go to you with assignments and homework help in the future. Always make sure they are testing the limits of what they already know.
If you fail, try again – If your child is discouraged by a recent failure in his, or her, life, make sure they understand that it’s not the end of the world. A lot of successful people have only gotten to where they are today because they accepted their falls and shortcomings, working to improve on them with the help of a support system and their own will. Even though they may be too young to understand this on their own, help them to.
Set goals together – If your tween is working towards building up a new skill, follow with them and act as a guide. They’ll appreciate it.
Make sure they understand they need to set limitations – Even though they may be pushing to achieve something, there is a ceiling and limit to what each of us can do and tween perseverance is no different. When they’re trying too hard, encourage them to slow down and take time to smell the roses.
Gena-mour Barrett from Buzzfeed has some great insight into what actually happens when a child loses a parent.
1. People will unintentionally belittle your pain.
My father died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 38 on 29 September 1999, 39 days before my 7th birthday. I used to get defensive when people assumed I couldn't possibly have understood the magnitude of what happened. They'd tell me I was "lucky" because "at least it happened when you were little" and I'd insist that I knew and remembered everything in a vain attempt to validate my own experience. We're all guilty of placing suffering in a hierarchy: We assume dying in your sleep isn't as terrible as dying from cancer, that losing a grandparent isn't as tragic as losing a parent. And we assume losing a parent as a minor – when you're apparently unable to fully comprehend the situation – can't possibly be worse than losing a parent as an adult. We all know which we'd prefer, right?
It took me a long time to accept that while I may not have been completely aware at the time, it didn't take away from how I felt or currently feel about my dad's passing. There is no one way to experience death, and whether you like it or not your pain belongs to you, nobody else.
2. You'll get to know your loss with time.
Realising the magnitude of my loss didn't come immediately. I barely "mourned" the death of my dad as a child. I cried once or twice, then I carried on, too busy being young and revelling in the love of my mum and auntie. In some ways, I actually did feel lucky. I had a good relationship with my mum, and in general I continued to have a happy childhood.
The weight of my grief came to me in small doses at random stages of my life. It came when I sat in the back of my friend's car and listened to her chat with her dad about what they were going to eat for dinner. It came when I watched my classmates trail behind their mums and dads at parents' evening. It came on various Father's Days, when I'd joke smugly about not having to spend any money, and then wonder what it would be like if I actually had a dad to spend money on. It came, and it came, and it came. Each wave hit me just that little bit harder, until 13 years after my dad's death, on the front pew at my grandfather's funeral, I began to cry. I cried for every moment my father and I never had and never will have, and I finally understood how dreadful it actually was. Losing a parent when you're a child means you learn your loss as you go along. You not only learn to live without a parent, you eventually learn what it means to live without one.
3. You'll learn to fill the gaps for yourself.
Losing my father at the age of 6 meant I had an almost entirely blank slate on which to draw a picture of who my dad was. I knew he was studying to be a solicitor before he died, I knew he smoked occasionally, and I knew he was really bloody good at giving piggyback rides. Everything else I took from the fragmented second-hand memories of other people to help me understand who he was and in turn who I am. It is from him I apparently get my nose and eyes and, according to my mother, my large smile. Often though, my dad feels more like a fictional character than a real person, someone whose qualities I can change at will to suit my own childish fantasies and whims. With only three years of tangible memories to choose from, my dad can essentially be whoever I want him to be.
Truth be told, I'm somewhat thankful that I never got to know my dad's flaws for myself. He wasn't alive long enough to ever hurt me, disappoint me, or argue with me. He is the perfect protagonist in my own made-up story. My final memory of him is of a dying man who, despite being minutes away from the end of his life, managed to utter a raspy "goodbye" to his 6-year-old daughter as she left the hospital room for the last time. What flaw could I possibly find in that?
4. You'll dread that one day you will no longer remember them.
I used to play a game after my dad died where I'd sit in bed and test myself to see how well I still remembered his face. I'd think of his eyes, his nose, and imagine running my hands over every crease on his forehead. As the years went on, the game became more infrequent and I began to remember less and less. The details of his face became less distinct; I no longer remembered the timbre of his voice. The image of my dad mutated from a crisp still photo into a blurry watercolour, and I became scared that I was forgetting him.
When you lose a parent as a child, you don't have a lot of memories to choose from. You cling on to the precious few that you have, and then you start to panic when even the edges of those get fuzzy. I have an enormous fear of forgetting my dad completely. I imagine passing him on a busy street and I wonder whether I'd even recognise him at all. When it comes to my father, my memory has become both my biggest asset and my biggest enemy.
5. It may be the first time you discover that people don’t always keep their word.
I don't remember much from my dad's funeral, but as every child usually does, I remember the promises. I'll keep in touch; call me whenever you want; you can ask me for anything. The words spilled from the mouths of many who looked at my mother and me with pity. It wasn't long before we were completely on our own, and I never saw the majority of those people again.
When they did appear, their visits were random and inconsistent throughout my life: attempts to make up for lost time in a single day before they faded away again. People say a lot of things they don't actually mean when they feel sorry for you. They promise the world when they can barely manage a phone call, unaware of the effect that kind of broken vow has on a child. I grew to expect very little, which made the disappointment easier and the pleasant surprises even better. It was my very first lesson in scepticism and one I've returned to many times.
6. There will be very few people who knew you when you had two parents.
I have one friend who has ever met my dad. Just one. She came to my house after school and he came into the living room as we were sat on the sofa. She remarked on how tall he was and I remember being filled with pride. She is one of very few people who knew me both before and after. Since then, every friend I've ever made has known me as a person with only one parent, and it's become a defining feature of my identity. If I had to introduce myself in a sentence, I'd say: "Hi, my name is Gena-mour, I'm a Scorpio, and – let's get this out of the way now – my father is dead."
I occasionally feel as though a small part is missing from all of my friendships because of this, like starting a book with the first chapter torn out. No matter how well anyone gets to know me, they'll never have known me when I had a dad. They, like me, will only know his absence. I thank God for that one friend who met my dad on a grey afternoon after school. She is a perfect reminder that there was a reality where both my parents existed at the same time.
7. You’ll eventually learn to accept the hand life has dealt you.
When you lose a parent as a child, you can only hope there's a person alive who loves you enough to make your loss feel a little less tragic. For the past 17 years, it's been my mum and me. The void my father left made space for us to thrive as a two-person team, sticking together as a survival mechanism against life's casual cruelties, and as close as a mother and daughter can be.
I like to imagine that if my dad could see my mum and me now, he'd see we were OK, and I reckon he'd be very, very proud. As long as we're both here, everything will be all right, and even better than that, in the end, it may actually be OK.
Reposted Buzzfeed Gena-mour Barrett March 16, 2016
I found this article written a few years ago. I believe the signs are still current and the suggestions are valid., even today.
Warnings signs that your child is being bullied
If your child is bullied it means that a peer or peers are intentionally causing her or him pain. Peer abuse! Just the thought can send shivers down our spines.
But the fact is 160,000 children skip school every day because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students. Reports also confirm that bullying is starting at younger ages and is more frequent and aggressive than before. And the cruel behavior increases with age. Chances are your child may be bullied.
Also troubling is that our children don’t always tell us that they have been bullied. I’ve spent many a meeting with kids who were repeatedly victimized and in clear emotional pain.
“Why didn’t you go to a trusted adult for help?” I’d ask.
Their replies were concerning:
“I did tell my mom. She didn’t believe me.”
“I tried to tell, but I got too embarrassed.”
“If I told my dad he would have only made things worse by yelling at the bully.”
“Why bother? The stuff my mom told me to try wouldn’t work.”
Repeated bullying causes severe emotional harm and can erode a child’s self-esteem and mental health. Whether bullying is verbal, physical or relational, the long-term effects are equally harmful. Both boys and girls report high levels of emotional distress and loneliness as well as lower self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety and depression. Some situations the outcome is tragic: the child may take his or her own life.
So it’s time to get savvy and learn the warning signs of bullying. Bullying is always intentional, mean-spirited, rarely happens only once and there is always a power imbalance. The victim cannot hold his own and often will need adult help. Your child may not feel comfortable telling you about his pain, but if you know these signs your child is being bullied and tune in closer, you might be able to start bullying prevention in your home.
Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
Here are possible warnings that a child may be bullied and needs your support. Of course, these signs could indicate other problems, but any of these warrant looking into further. See my blog, Signs of Cyber-bullying for signs of electronic bullying. Every child is different and any child can have an “off” day, so look instead of a pattern of behavior that is not typical for your child.
1. Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes
2. Unexplained loss of toys, school supplies, clothing, lunches, or money
3. Clothes, toys, books, electronic items are damaged or missing or child reports mysteriously “losing” possessions
4. Doesn’t want to go to school or other activities with peers
5. Afraid of riding the school bus
6. Afraid to be left alone: wants you there at dismissal, suddenly clingy
7. Suddenly sullen, withdrawn, evasive; remarks about feeling lonely
8. Marked change in typical behavior or personality
9. Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed and that mood lasts with no known cause
10. Physical complaints; headaches, stomachaches, frequent visits the school nurse’s office
11. Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries self to sleep, bed wetting
12. Change in eating habits
13. Begins bullying siblings or younger kids. (Bullied children can sometimes flip their role and become the bully.)
14. Waits to get home to use the bathroom. (School and park bathrooms, because they are often not adult-supervised, can be hot spots for bullying).
15. Suddenly has fewer friends or doesn’t want to be with the “regular group”
16. Ravenous when he comes home. (Bullies can use extortion stealing a victim’s lunch money or lunch.)
17. Sudden and significant drop in grades. (Bullying can cause a child to have difficulty focusing and concentrating.)
18. Blames self for problems; feels “not good enough”
19. Talks about feeling helpless or about suicide; runs away.
What to Do if You Suspect Bullying but Aren’t Sure
Kids often don’t tell adults they’re bullied so you may have to voice your concerns. Review the signs of bullying and then ask direct questions.
“You’re always hungry: have you been eating your lunch?”
“Your CDs are missing? Did someone take them?”
“Your jacket is ripped. Did someone do that to you?”
Watch your child’s reactions. Often what a child doesn’t say may be more telling. Tune into your child’s body language. Silence is often powerful.
If you suspect bullying and your child won’t talk to you, then arrange a conference with a trusted adult who knows your child. If your child has more than one teacher you may need to meet with each educator or coach. Keep in mind that bullying usually does not happen in all school settings and in all classrooms. The trick is to figure out if your child is bullied and then where and when it is happening so you can get the right help for your child.
Hint: If your child has a classmate, you might be able to gain more information from the pal than your own child.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on your child. Children who are embarrassed or humiliated about being bullied are unlikely to discuss it with their parents or teachers and generally suffer in silence, withdraw and try to stay away from school.
Stress to your child you are always available, are concerned and recognize bullying may be a problem.
Emphasize that you believe your child and you are there to help.
Please seek the help of a trained mental health professional if the signs continue, intensify, or your gut instinct tells you “something is not right with my child!” Please!
Reposted from character.org
Sticky Situations: Handling Tween Stealing and Shoplifting
Stealing can be a very serious and criminal offense. One of the biggest reasons tweens end up stealing is because of peer pressure. If one of the cooler, more sociable friends convinces them to shoplift, then they are probably going to do it. A lack of attention from their peers is also a tipping scale factor when it comes to this equation; if they have been a victim of bullying in the past, but the bully invites them to the mall, they’re more than likely going to do whatever the person or group says. Below are five tips on how to handle tween stealing and shoplifting:
Have the talk about peer pressure early on, and continue it – Make sure your child understands that if they ever feel uncomfortable doing something, saying no is okay. In fact, in most circumstances it is the safer choice. If their friends are still pressuring them, tell them that they can call you at any time to come pick them up. They are not your friends if they’re making you do something you don’t want to.
Remind them that everything costs money – If someone were to come into their home and take your tween’s favorite possession, ask them how that would make them feel. More than likely, it wouldn’t feel very good.
If your tween has stolen, make sure you enforce consequences – Don’t allow them to go to the mall or out with friends for an extended period of time, long enough so that the message has sunk in. Also, accompany them to the store where they stole from and make them produce a formal apology to the owner.
Do the same with law enforcement – For wasting their time, make sure your tween writes a letter or apologizes to everyone involved!
If the incident occurs again in the future, the consequences need to be harder – Don’t give them an allowance. Don’t let them go for sleepovers or participate in activities until they’ve shown true remorse and regret for their actions. Otherwise, you’ll be feeding their spoiled nature and allowing them to continue on as if their behavior was acceptable and okay. Stealing should not be taken lightly at all.
As a parent, it is absolutely critical that you bring up the negative repercussions of this behavior far before it begins. Stealing is not something that anyone should take lightly, because the law enforcement agencies will not.
Tweens and Diversity: Let's All Get Along and Keep an Open Mind
Whether in the United States, China, or Morocco, there is no escaping the increasing diversity of ethnicities and cultures. Tolerance for diversity starts with education, and as usual, tweens are among the first to adapt progressive new ways of thinking. While diversity education can be handled through many outlets, it is crucial to first teach tweens why they should value it. Here are some thoughtful suggestions on how to do it:
Start off by presenting them with a simple example of two people who disagree on how to handle a work situation. Show that each party strongly believes in their own way of handling the situation, and then ask the tween if she could point out the strengths and weaknesses in either side. In doing this exercise, the tween learns that there are pros and cons to an argument. Moreover, they will become practiced in listening and acknowledging other viewpoints: the first step towards tolerance.
Show them that diversity affects the economy. Ask them to imagine a world without Chinese food, or a world without Taco Bell. Point out that it is only because of our acceptance of other ethnicities that these businesses have decided to take root in the United States. You can elaborate on how this case extends far beyond restaurants.
Ask them to think about how diversity affects democracy. They should understand that with so many different beliefs spread throughout a country, it’s difficult for one candidate to represent them all. They will then begin to understand that working together and compromising are far more helpful than endless bickering and division.
Convey the importance of having many ways of thinking when confronted by a difficult problem; extend this to the level of businesses, communities, and even nations. Draw an analogy to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, explaining that animals that have the traits needed to survive hostile environments will thrive. Cultural diversity proposes different ways of thinking, like biological diversity proposes different ways of adapting; both can be beneficial tools for survival.
Point out that he is just as different to others as others are to him. Rhetorically ask him if he would prefer to be accepted or rejected for his differences, and then suggest that he keep a more open mind from now on.
Mom! I’m a Loser! Handling Perfectionism in Tweens
Perfectionism, though not always a bad trait, can grip tweens in unhealthy ways. Too much time spent on a task causes stress and can lead to the neglect of other areas of life. For example, a tween who spends too much time focusing on perfectionism, may forget about or ignore his, or her, social life, eating and exercise habits, and play time. While perfectionism can be a highly-valued trait (many perfectionists are high-achievers) it’s important for parents to recognize when their tween’s hyper vigilance is having a detrimental effect.
If you have noticed your tween’s perfectionist tendencies becoming a problem, here are some things you can do to help:
Teach them that not every task needs to be perfect – Oftentimes, a good job is just as acceptable as an excellent job for all intents and purposes. For example, point out that while cleaning the floors, a quick mopping removes most of the dirt, and that an extra thirty to sixty minutes would have to be spent to get on their hands-and-knees and hand-scrub every crevice. Is this really worth it?
Sometimes a tween’s self-esteem may be tied up in perfecting a task – Remind them that you love him or her no matter how well they do on the task (though of course you do expect high performance!) This will create feelings of calm and security so that your tween can lighten up.
Momentarily break your tween’s focus with a distraction – Perfectionism can be an unconscious habit – like rumination – and sometimes all that is needed is a quick distraction to break the pattern of thought.
If the above tips do not work, consider having a direct conversation about perfectionism with your tween. There may be a very good reason for it – and your job as a parent may be to then help your tween find an appropriate way to channel and limit the tendency of perfectionism. By showing you understand, they will be more willing to consider your advice -and reassure him/her: Being imperfect does not mean they are losers!
Resilience: How to Put the Spark in Your Tween's Mood
We often hear about the remarkable resilience of tweens, who are known to cope with crushing life circumstances and bounce back in a way that surprises everyone around them. But there are other times when they are left feeling quite down by something and could use a little nudge to get them back on track.
To put a spark into a tween’s resilience, consider the nature of his or her problem. Unless dealing with a deeper depression, there’s usually something in their environment that can be improved to elicit a better mood.
Is your tween getting enough sleep? Even more than adults, tweens need an adequate amount of sleep every night to feel their best. They are processing a lot of information every day – from school to peer relationships to the stresses of daily task – and all of these things need to be consolidated by the brain during sleep. By waking up with a fresh mind, the tweens will be ready to tackle a new day of challenges.
Is your tween eating well? Without the energy gained from nutritious foods, it is very difficult to think and/or move one’s self in response to life’s demands. Monitor their eating habits, cutting out excessive junk food and encouraging healthful food choices.
Is your tween getting enough exercise and sunlight? Like a dog cooped up all day, extended inactivity causes a feeling in tweens that something is off. Encouraging them to get outside and get active may be all that he or she needs to think through a problem more clearly. Exercise and sunlight have been shown to increase the production of brain chemicals responsible for feelings of well-being, and has been linked to a better memory and clearer thinking.
Does your tween have a supportive family? Many problems stem from where they spend half of their day – at home. Family life is the backbone of a tween’s psychological wellness, and if you are a third party, offer to listen and provide counsel when they’re going through rough times at home. This can make all the difference, giving them someone to look up to, and a reason to be optimistic about the day.
Is your tween getting along with peers? Aside from needing adult guidance, tweens must have a steady and harmonious peer group (at least as harmonious as young they can be!). The approval that they gain from sharing with peers builds self-esteem, and a tween with a stronger sense of self will be able to better push through life’s challenges.
Tween Bullying: Working through the Drama
Fighting is a part of growing up. Every parent can remember a bully or fight they had when they were younger, like it was yesterday. This is because our natural instincts are more inclined to swing towards a different kind of resolution for our interpersonal problems. However, there are still plenty of reasons why tweens should be steered clear of physical confrontation or any sort of bullying behavior towards one another. By teaching them to work things out together with words, (rather than nasty behaviors that only lead to hurt feelings), both parents and teachers will find that the bonds formed through this process will be stronger and healthier. There are several ways to encourage them to peer mediate on their own, but with the help of an adult it can be that much easier.
If there’s a problem at school, sit down with the teacher. Don’t make your tween feel like they are in trouble – express to them that you only want to try and help the situation. Teachers can also help explain a lot of things that happen while they’re at school. Behaviors exhibited at school can often be different from the ones they bring home.
Talk to your tween about bullying. Before the beginning of each new school year, make sure you and your tween have a conversation about how people will want to be treated. By telling them, “You want to treat others the way you’d want to be treated,” on more than one occasion, the message is more likely to stick.
Hold a mediation to help them find solutions. If there’s an altercation between your tween and another child sit down together with them both and the other child’s parents. Often, in a calm atmosphere outside of school, these sorts of problems can be discussed through words. And it’s more than likely that the other parents will be interested in helping along this process.
Encourage your tween to include people that are left out. By becoming a good role model and example for others, you can help themparticipate in a healthy and proactive way of treating others.
Talk to other parents about developing plans. By creating events that all tweens and families can participate in, you can create a sense of community in the school. Even try to talk to teachers about their plans for conflict resolution in the classroom.
"Mom He Pinched Me!” The Tattling Tween
When picked on, hurt, or upset in some way, tweens must go to the adult authorities to set the matter straight. At times, however, kids go to adults to punish a child who did no wrong – or at least very little wrong. Some kids make habits of garnering the support of authorities – we call these tweens tattle-tells. Tattling is a way that they can easily control their environment without directly confronting the bothersome thing (if there even is a truly bothersome thing!)
Reporting, on the other hand, is reserved for matters of serious consequence – from a threat to bullying to cheating on a test.
A tattling tween may have a thin skin. Authorities must be firm in not giving in to their requests; this may be the only way that they will learn to “roll with the punches” of the environment.
Tattling can be the result of not understanding the motivations of others, which can cause them to feel wronged. Parents have a role in explaining to their child the thoughts and feelings behind the actions of others. By seeing things from another’s point of view, they may be able to better handle life’s situations.
A tattling tween may be feeling an improved self-esteem through the act of tattling. Parents and authorities must explain to them that it is wrong to get others into trouble when they didn’t do anything to deserve it. Ask them to imagine how he, or she, would feel if he suddenly had to see the principal for throwing a plastic sandwich bag on the ground instead of in the trash?
There may be a particular person or group that the tattling tween is trying to get back at for other reasons. While it is difficult to know if the tattler is abusing the report function, keep an eye out for repeated reports on one particular person or group. Make known to them that there will be consequences if it is found that the reported party isn’t engaging in any negative behavior. This will discourage the tattler from abusing the avenue of authority in the future.
Something may be bothering them. Is everything going alright in his or her life? When things go awry, people become irritable, and may see things as more threatening than they actually are. Have compassion for them and see if you can help out, even if it just providing a listening ear.
Teach Your Tween Self-Control without Losing Your Mind
Self-control is a useful and critical tool not only for tweens, but also for parents as well. By keeping your own emotions in check while raising a tween, you’ll be able to pass on more positive energy and behaviors as a result. Tweens without self-control are more prone to lashing out, tantrums, angry and violent behaviors, and many more bad traits that will have the potential to develop as they grow older. By being aware of the big signs and controlling how they react to certain situations, you’ll be able to instill a positive attitude surrounding when to say yes, and when to say no.
When they have a problem, talk it out. Even if they’re screaming and causing an unmanageable fuss, always keep your cool. Once they see that you’ve controlled and calmed your emotions, after a while, they too will cool down and respond.
Not over indulging their pleasures. Parents who spoil their children are more likely to be on the receiving end of tantrums. Once you realize that your child has really come to like a certain thing, (whether that be a treat, snack, place to visit, or thing to do) make it more of a reward for good behaviors. That way, they are less likely to take advantage of you.
Activities can help with self-control. When tweens are part of a sport or team, their coaches and the other adults will be like mentors. The behaviors and control they pick up from being part of an organization will transition into their daily lives.
Exhibit the behaviors you’d like to see in your children. No good comes from lashing out at a tween for a bad behavior or accident. In order to maintain order and a sense of control, make sure you always keep your emotions in check. They will end up taking after the positive vibes you are exhibiting and trying them for themselves.
Give them time to hash out their feelings. Without responsive and open communication at home, they will choose to bottle their emotions and take them out in the wrong types of situations. As said before, do not treat them like the babies they once were. It’s a crucial time for self-development, and without your guidance in a reassuring and assertive way, they will be more likely to bottle up the things that are bothering them.