Posted: Jun 11, 2012 2:00 PM
As your child enters the tween years, they test their boundaries more. When their attitude turns nasty and rude, how can you turn it back around?

The tween years are difficult, and not just for parents. Tweens struggle to separate from their parents and find their own identity, while being influenced by outside forces like friends and the media. They are in almost constant contact with their peers through texting or social media and the influence is strong. But according to Michele Borba, Ed.D., "Parents have more influence on their kids' attitudes than their peers, the media and school. You have the greatest influence over your child's attitude (aka character!) than anything or anyone else. So use your power wisely and don't blame outside influences."

While some amount of backtalk and eye-rolling is to be expected at this age, rude behavior should not be tolerated. Here are a few ways you can keep a lid on the rudeness.

Set clear rules

Your tween needs to know what behavior expectations you have, and where you draw the line. Make it clear from the start what behaviors you will not tolerate. A moderate amount of mumbling may be acceptable, while door-slamming and screaming is not. When you need to dole out a punishment, make sure you choose a consequence that is age-appropriate. A time-out in his room may not matter to your tween son, but taking away his cell phone or computer will make him think twice next time.

Stay in control

If you expect respect, you need to give it back. No matter how angry you feel at the rude behavior, don't resort to name-calling or screaming. By modeling a calm, firm demeanor you help diffuse the attitude. If your child simply can't stop yelling or ranting and the discussion becomes heated, call a break and retreat for a cool-down. Calmer heads make for better communication.

Take time to listen

It isn't always easy to be available for your tween when they want to talk. Some of the best conversations with this age group happen when you'd least expect them. Invite your daughter to ride along with you to the grocery store, or take the dog for a quick walk together. If your son wanders in and lingers while you are busy on the computer, there's a good chance he has something to say. Even small amounts of your undivided attention make a big difference in helping your tween handle the struggles of adolescent life.

Bottom line^ Help your tweens navigate the difficult feelings of adolescence. You may be surprised at how likeable they really can be.

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Topics: puberty