In our pre-teen talk last Wednesday at Dots and Links, Joanne Jewell, the founder of Mindful Parenting, took us on an expedition as she transformed the uneasiness we felt towards the teen years into a smoother apprehension. Unlike the toddler years where parenting is a physical challenge, the teen age years are more cognitively challenging.
According to Mrs. Jewel, There are five main changes a pre-teen child goes through where parents feel secluded. However, we should not take things personal as it is all part of their growth.
It is very natural that at this stage pre-adolescents seek to spend more time with their peers. However, parents’ role is crucial here as they need to work on moving towards a ‘coaching style’. Funnily enough those pre-teens still yearn to have quality time with their parents even if they do not show it. Here, parents are recommended to work on LISTENING more and question less. Being non-judgemental about their opinions and friends makes teenagers want to share more things with their parents. They long for a connection and that is what we need to acquire.
When we as parents are up to date with the teen age world, we establish a better relationship with them. It is advised that parents show an interest in their favourite TV programs, YouTube, Instagram accounts etcetera, and guide them by showing sympathy. In addition, having open discussions about bullying, gender roles, media, and peer pressure significantly decreases teenagers’ involvement in mishaps and trouble.
Major body changes occur at this stage in their lives. It is essential that we do not fear the fact of starting a conversation about puberty. For example, ask about what they already know and let them steer the conversation. It is essential to note the usage of the appropriate words for body parts. Making the conversations as casual as possible facilitates the talk. For example, Mrs. Jewell suggested having such a talk in the car where eye contact may be avoided and hence the awkwardness of the situation is minimalised.
Changes in the Brain:
In addition to all the physical changes in their bodies, the teenage brain goes through a colossal re-wiring process. It mainly changes in the way they remember, think, reason, focus, pay attention, and make decisions. For instance, teenagers might display some of those cognitive changes through the following behavioral traits: seeking rewards by trying new things, displaying varied and strong emotions, or pushing away and rebelling against the traditional ways of doing things.
Seek more Autonomy:
It is all a natural development and a necessary push to notice that they seek autonomy and parents should not feel rejected. It is only a move towards ‘inter-dependence’ and not isolation. It is not easy to find a balance between the parents and their children. However, keeping the channels of communication open helps a lot. For example, you could say, “Let me think about it, “instead of saying “No” directly. Showing empathy all the way makes your child want to listen to you.
Below is a link that focuses on the choice of words and its impact on our children:
When I asked the attending moms to describe in a few words what lesson they have learned or what message they would want to share with other parents, I got a few interesting replies which I would like to share with you.
“It was truly a very inspiring seminar. Thank you for organizing it. I think the biggest thing I would take away from this is the importance of listening and appreciating our children’s emotions. When children are especially expressive or can discuss things with you at a high (almost surprising) level, we tend to forget that their brains haven’t yet fully developed. This is something we surely need constant reminders of, and Joanne did just that. She put it back in perspective: that self-regulating their feelings and learning how to deal with whatever situation they face is a skill that our children learn, and it’s probably the most important tool we can provide them with to become successful and happy adults later in life; which is why we have to be conscious of our own behavior with them. So, very simply, listen, empathize, and give them the space to learn.”
“This workshop has changed my ocular towards parenting, I have learned that empathy and empowerment is the route to successful parenting. Punishment and control have short term effect and will not help us equip our kids with the relevant values that will help them later in life.”
“I have learned a few valuable skills and the most important is using empathy first. I usually charge, shoot, drill then empathize.”
“Empathy empathy empathy then transfer your family values.”
“I think I should do things with more ease when dealing with my kids and treat them like friends rather than being hard on them.”
“Would like to thank you for the great workshop, I learned so much from it. The information provided are very useful and I will implement them in my life:
_ to create an open environment.
_ to listen
_ to be patient
_ to learn a new game with my kids.”
“The power of showing Empathy! When dealing with an angry pre-teens there is no need to express our thoughts or opinion… empathizing could be the answer to a critical situation. This way, we, as parents, think about what’s the best thing to say and it also allows our son or daughter to absorb what we will tell them later on.”
“The only thing you can control in parenting is your reaction towards your children.”
“It’s been a pleasure attending the seminar. I really liked it and it made me change in knowing how to deal more wisely and positively with my kids and everyone else whether friends or family members. It even gave me positive energy to keep on trying to find solutions to any barriers or problems I’m facing.
I wish everyone could share their experiences as well since we all keep on learning from each other.”
“First of all I would like to thank you for this great opportunity you have provided us with. Show sympathy with your kids before you judge them.”
We ended the seminar with a raffle draw and a group picture. In that regard, I would like to thank all the attending moms and their great participation in the workshop. I would also like to acknowledge Dots and Links for their hospitality, vouchers, and support, Mrs Jewell for the informative guidance she bestowed to us, with whom we will be working on organizing more workshops in the future. Chateau de Sable, and Layan Emirates Gifts for the vouchers and gifts.
You have all participated in making the event a unique one with its success.
I would love to hear your stories, the challenges you face, and concerns that worry you in order to work on preparing for Mrs. Jewell’s workshop in the near future.