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Tips for parenting tweens and teens

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Jan. 19, 2018 -- In addition to her full-time duties as a math teacher for grades 4-6 at Driver Middle School, Judith Walsh is also serving an internship with social worker and school psychologist Cheri Panek this year as she pursues a master’s degree in social work from Syracuse University.
She’s been working with students in grades K-12, alongside the district’s counselors and social workers, and plans to provide weekly tip sheets to parents on the district website.
“It helps a parent to deal with his/her child when they know this is part of normal development for where their child is at,” Mrs. Walsh said. “I am hoping to help them understand that this is normal and they aren't the only ones dealing with it. I hope to give them tips to navigate the different phases of development and strengthen their relationship with their child.”
Check out her first weekly dispatch below:

Tips for Parenting Tweens and Teens 

The most effective parenting style for raising a tween (ages 10-12) or teen is the authoritative style. This means the following: 
  • thoughtful control- not giving in, but not being too rigid
  • high warmth- not cold and disengaged, but not too involved or controlling
  • effective communication- clear and consistent 
Find the good child in the bad deed- make complaints about behavior, not criticism of your teen’s personality.
Use CALM technique:
C- Cool down- control yourself without trying to control anyone else
A- Assess options- what are the issues? Would it be better to keep talking or postpone?
L- Listen with empathy- without any “buts,” and when you re-engage, start over
M- Make a plan- consider ways to handle the meltdown and move forward
Remember that part of the job of teens (developmentally and neurologically) is to distance themselves from you so that they can become an individual, independent self. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes they will dislike you intensely. BUT, remember, you are still very important to them.
When teens are riled up, remember the following tips:
  • Keep emotions in check.
  • Minimize damage to the relationship.
  • Remove yourself from the eye of the storm. 
Most importantly, remember that teen difficulties happen to the best of parents, and that a large part of this is based on changes going on in their brains that you and they have no control over!  
Adapted from the book, “Getting to Calm: Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens,” Laura Kastner, Ph.D., and Jennifer Wyatt, PhD. (2009). Parentmap Publishing.

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