How to Deal with a (Slightly) Rebellious Tween

How can a successful, smart and seemingly put-together woman (with abs to boot!) in her late thirties suddenly become dumb-founded, clueless, and grappling for answers? Although the idea seems unthinkable, that’s just what happened to one of my long-time friends.

Yesterday, I was quite surprised when she sent me a message, asking me about how she can undo something terrible she’s done. She and her 12-year old daughter were having one of their usual mother-daughter spats when my friend inadvertently said something out loud which understandably tore her girl apart. Since then, her 12-year old daughter has built a virtual wall of hostility around her. Now my friend feels she’s the worst (still, with rock-hard abs!) mom on the planet.

So, what advice did I give her?

Talk heart-to-heart. I told my friend to try speaking with her daughter at a time when both of them are in a calm mood. I said that she should try her hardest to explain to her daughter that sometimes, we say things in the heat of the moment, and then regret it later on. She has to assure her daughter that she understands how hurt and angry she feels because of the upsetting thing she has said.

Write her a letter. If talking to her daughter doesn’t work, she can try pouring out her feelings in an old-school letter. Or she can probably chat with her daughter online- since that’s the medium of communication she seems to prefer. She simply has to validate how her daughter feels, and then explain her side.

Seek intervention. If all else fails, she can always ask for professional help. Her daughter may come from a disposition that sometimes our feeble minds fail to comprehend. My friend plans to speak with the school guidance counselor about this. Hopefully they sort this out before things get out of hand.

At the end of the day, all our kids need to feel is that we love them unconditionally, and that we are damn proud of every little thing they do. And more often than not, they gauge that love by the quality of time we spend with them.  Tweens start to assert their independence, but at the same time, they still need and want to be with us.

When they begin to exhibit early signs of rebellion- even to the point of physically harming themselves- that is definitely a cry for help. They’re obviously craving for our attention. Let’s give that to them while we can.