I hope the first part of my series helped you know how to deal with your pre-teens moodiness and need for privacy.
This second post will address their sensitivity and need for independence.
Sensitivity / Independence
Your Pre-Teen will start to be more self-conscious and sensitive. If you find your daughter saying, "I don't want anyone to see me. I hate the way I look," don't be surprised.
As your pre-teen matures, their bodies start changing in uncontrollable ways. Some examples include: growth spurts, acne, breasts growing and hair growth in new places. These changes make them feel awkward about their appearance.
When your child makes negative comments about their appearance, listen to what she says. Try to avoid immediately reassuring her. Instead, make comments that prompt her to describe her feelings. For example: "That must be really tough." This encourages her to open up about her emotions.
Make your comments in a matter-of-fact tone. Pre-Teens are likely to find joking and teasing hurtful, even if you're just trying to be funny.
Talk about how you felt when you were her age. If she doesn't believe you, pull out old photos. She will quickly see your telling the truth. Gently explain that her friends probably feel the same way about their bodies. Let her know that these changes will be less and less noticeable as she gets older.
Your pre-teen seems unhappy, so you ask her what's wrong. "Nothing," she replies. Then, she spends an hour on the phone telling a friend about her troubles.
As a parent, this may feel like rejection. For the first years of her life, your child relied on you to help her fix what was bothering her. Now she turns to friends for help.
Although you may feel like you've done something wrong, pre-teens naturally begin to form relationships outside the family. Its part of growing up-depending less on parents to meet all their needs.
(I'm having a very hard time with this issue. My daughter who is currently a pre-teen is my first born and it is so hard when she doesn't need me)
The key to this stage of your child's life is to allow her to make more decisions about how and when she does things. But make it clear that her newfound freedom has conditions. For example, so long as her work gets done, you'll try to stay out of her hair. But if she stops meeting her obligations, remind her that you'll step in and take over.
Whenever you want to ask questions about your pre-teen's life, try to remain as casual as possible. If your questions are too probing, she's likely to feel attacked, which may make her respond defensively.
I hope these two subjects and the recommended coping suggestions help you deal with your pre-teens new sensitivity to their changing bodies and their need for more independence.
Part III of this series will deal with their argumentative behavior