Thirteen is a pivotal age. It has been described as an age of rebirth where the teen takes over from the child. This age group is often very needy and respond well to confident, firm parenting. In many ways, this age mirrors the age when your child moved from being an infant to being a toddler.
It's a stage in which their body undergoes massive changes, while their brain and emotional state are undergoing a separate set of challenges.
Here are ten tips to help:
1. Watch for the swings
Thirteen year olds can swing between great dependency on you and great competence. These swings can be unpredictable and confusing for parents. It helps to stay out of arguments and reinforce that you are there to help and support.
2. Be prepared for your daugher to regress.
A thirteen year old's brain is being completely rewired, which leaves many becoming, baby-like, disorganised and cranky. It seems a little worse for girls than boys at this age. You may find she is both cuddlier and crankier than in previous years so enjoy the opportunity to be close, but stay out of pointless arguments.
3. Stand up to your son.
Boys can challenge their mother's authority at this age, if it hasn’t happened before. It’s a time to stand firm, take no nonsense, but at the same time to be nurturant of your young person.
4. Be prepared to be the bad guy
Thirteen can be an age of great risk so they need parents who they can depend on to set firm boundaries and look out for their safety. They may even blame you for not being allowed to go out, but it’s okay to take the fall to keep your young person safe.
5. Watch your langauge
Thirteen year olds are very sensitive to criticism so be careful how you frame your feedback so they take it on board. They may even have difficulty working out if your criticism is real or perceived.
6. Reassure them that bad stuff is temporary.
Many thirteen year olds live in the now. This propensity to live and think in the now means they may see challenges and difficulties as permanent. Rational parental reassurance can overcome catastrophising.
7. Be prepared to be their wingman
Thirteen year olds have short attention spans so they need adult backup in the form of minders and reminders. If you find yourself nagging, then go visual: leave them notes, use a noticeboard and give them one instruction at a time.
8. Encourage their maturity
Compliment them on mature and responsible behaviour when you see it. Like a toddler they need plenty of encouragement to guide their behaviour in the right direction.
9. Spend time together
Make sure you create opportunities to spend time together to build your relationship. Have fun together to build your relationship and to build immunity against anxiety and uncertainty, which is common among thirteen year olds.
10. Get your parenting mix right.
Your thirteen year old needs a mixture of support, guidance, containment and nurturance to help them navigate through a potentially challenging phase.
These tips and so much more can be found in the 20 page Year Ahead Parenting Planner available for purchase here.
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