Teenage years can be a difficult time for any family. However, in today's world, children are beginning to assert their independence at a younger age. Your preteen (between the ages of 10 and 12) will now start to place greater emphasis on her friends and social life. At the same time, you are still an important part of her life. You are responsible for guiding her in her decisions, and supporting her when she makes them. She may not always express her needs but she still requires your love and affection. Here are some ways to strengthen the bond with your preteen.
Have Family Meals
During the day, members of your family are busy with their own tasks. It is likely that they do not even meet each other during the day. Make it a point to have a family dinner each day. This provides valuable quality time for you and your preteen. If possible, have your preteen help out in the kitchen or set the table. This will give you an opportunity to speak with your child and ask her about her day.
Dinner need not always be a home-cooked affair. Even if you are too tired to cook a meal, you can order something from a restaurant. However, make sure that the family sits down for dinner together. Switch off the television. This time is for family members talk to one another, which is not always possible at other times.
If your preteen's schedule is such that she cannot be present for a family dinner everyday, try to work around it. For example, you can schedule her free night as special family night. Try to have some games that everyone can join in. This helps to strengthen the bond between your preteen and you.
Stick to a Bedtime Routine
Preteens require a certain amount of sleep to keep them healthy and alert. Many parents make the mistake of not maintaining a bedtime routine for their preteen. As she grows older, she will want to stay up late to watch TV or complete school projects. Alternatively, she may want to go out for a late night party. As a parent, only you can decide a suitable bedtime for your child. While it is okay to allow your child to stay up late occasionally, do not let this become a regular occurrence.
It is a good idea to develop a consistent nightly routine with your preteen, before she goes to sleep. At this age, your child does not want you to tuck her in. However, this does not mean you cannot say goodnight in other ways like a simple hug or kiss. Set aside some time when you and your preteen can speak to her without any outside interruptions. Ask her what her plans are for the following day. If your teen does not want you to kiss her goodnight, you could still pat her on her shoulder or back.
Spend Quality Time with Her
At this stage of her life, your preteen will want to spend all her free time with her friends. To spend some time with her, find a way to include her in daily activities. Invite her to be a part of your daily jog. If you have a dog, ask your preteen to come along when you take the dog for a walk. Other activities include baking a cake, cleaning a room, watching a TV show, etc. Along with using these activities to enjoy each other's company, your preteen is likely to use them as a platform to speak her mind.
Your preteen tends to feel more comfortable in these situations. She may also be more inclined to mention if something is troubling her because she is focussed on another task. This way she does not have to make eye contact with you.
As your child grows, continue to take an active interest in her life. Always keep yourself up-to-date on your preteen's interests and decisions. If you let your child know you are always there for her, she will be encouraged to approach you when she needs help.