Dealing with your sassy preteen


If you were to ask a room full of parents, "Which stage of parenting is the hardest?" Most would answer, "The teen years!"

Kids are fighting for independence and freedom

while parents are trying to guide them and keep them safe. Talk about a tug-of-war!

So, what's really going on?

Everything is in transition at the same time. Our kids are changing from the “babies” who needed us to teens who are now pushing us away. We are having to change how we approach discipline because we are now dealing with someone who can reason (and manipulate) their way through situations. We might blame hormones for the emotion driven volcano was once our sweet child, but it's more than that.

1. Kids aren’t staying “kids” as long Our kids are being pushed out of their "kid" stage earlier than ever. There was a time when things that were more "PG-13" stayed in that age group. With the internet and social media, our 8- and 9-year-olds are seeing things they just aren't ready to deal with. Technology gives our kids access to everything, from funny cat videos to porn.

What does that have to do with your sassy teen? She's trying to live out what she's seeing on tv, in movies, in social media and her friends’ behavior. Even the "family friendly" channels like Disney portray parents as bumbling idiots and write the kids’ roles to be very sarcastic all in the name of getting a laugh. It’s no wonder our kids try out that attitude as well.

2. Teens want control Teens want to start making their own decisions instead of having to listen to their parents. Unfortunately, they are wanting to make decisions on things that could have life-long consequences. Topics may include social groups, peer pressure, college selection, dating, drugs, and even their sexual identity. #heavystuff When we try to guide them, they push back because they feel we are "old school" and know nothing about being a teen nowadays (which, I will grant them, is somewhat true!). So, it’s a fine line parents have to walk between helping and supporting their independence. (I’ve been there, it is so rough some days!)

3. The teen brain is still growing Preteens and teens have brains that are still developing In fact, the frontal lobe which controls executive functions (i.e., logic, critical thinking, impulse control and long-term planning) isn't fully developed until the age of 25.

Teens tend to respond through emotion ("I hate you, you're the worst!") instead of logic ("I'm really frustrated, can I have a minute?") because of a lack of maturity.

In other words, their edit button doesn’t work. They’re trying, but the wiring still isn’t connected.

What can parents do?

The first key is to remember your smart-mouthed preteen is probably not trying to drive you off the deep end. Most times it's not personal against you, they are just frustrated or unsure of how to deal with things (and remember, their brain is still forming!).