8 Tips For Staying Connected To Your Tween

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This is a sponsored post by The Carpet and Rug Institute. All opinions are 100% my own.

When my kids were younger I used to be afraid of the teen years. Parents would always talk about them like they were the worst years you could imagine. Your sweet loving hand-holding kids would suddenly be full of hormones and mood swings and your home would be filled with door slamming and curse words. I feel like there are a lot of negative perceptions about parenting during the teen years and it's safe to say now that I am knee deep in them and have two teenagers myself {with one more in the tween pipeline}, they have been some of my favorite years of parenthood.  I think that by facing those fears head on when your children are tweens you can connect with them and prevent some of the rougher issues ahead. While the tween years can be a time when kids start to pull away, I have a few tips for you to still stay connected so that you can enjoy those teen years with your children and not enter into them with fear and trepidation. It's possible to still get in quality time with your children as they grow older and I'm sharing my 8 tips on how to do that and provide them with a soft place to land as their world starts to get more complex.

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Tips For Staying Connected To Your Tween

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1. Play a Game

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All three of my kids have really enjoyed playing games and that hasn't stopped even as they have gotten older. In fact, it's actually more fun to play games with the tween and teenagers because you can really see their personalities and their strengths shine through.  Plus, the games are far more fun! Get down on the floor with them and enjoy some time together. As a mom of two boys, I also get outside and throw a ball or engage in activities that they like as much as I can. My oldest son loves baseball and while he throws far harder than I would like, I still get out and toss a ball with him. I find that when you have your kids distracted they tend to open up and talk to you. If you nurture this part of your relationship early in the tween years, it won't seem forced as the kids continue to grow more independent. 

2. Engage Them

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Flipping through old family photo albums is a great way to connect with your tween. Ask them about what they remember and reminisce about things that they may not. Our family photo albums are some of the most loved books in our home. Describing stories about them may just put a smile on their face that you haven't seen in awhile.

3. Set Expectations

Tweens and teens may not like the expectations their parents set for them, but it doesn't mean that they won't understand that their parents care about them enough to set limits and boundaries and that certain things are expected of them as members of your family. I find that by explaining these expectations to them too rather than using the old line "because I said so" tends to work better so that they have an understanding of why the rules are in place. 

4. Recognize Their Need for Independence
There will be time when your tween just wants to be alone. A tweens life can be very over stimulating and they have a lot of emotions to process. Sometimes they just need a break from all of that so that they can gather their thoughts. Don't take it personally and encourage that down time.

5. Be Available As Much As You Can

I'm not one to think that you can schedule in quality time. This is especially true with tweens. You need to be available as much as you can be so that you can be ready when they are ready to talk or share a part of their life with you. There is a lot of time in the car with tweens so make sure that time is conducive to talking. Turn down your radio, don't take calls during that time, just be ready to field questions or hear their concerns when they are ready to talk. 

6. Get Down on Their Level

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In my child development classes in college, this was the key to communication in the early years. Bending down and making eye contact is just as important when your kids are 12 as it is when they are three. You just may not have to bend quite as far! Sit on the floor next to them, look them in the eye and set aside any of your distractions. Put aside the book you are reading or the phone you are scrolling on. Let your children know that they have your attention. As your kids grow, they may start talking to you less. The words that they do say are important so make sure you are paying attention. Even things that seem trivial to you, are actually big things to them. If your children know that they can trust you with those little things, they will be more apt to share the big things that happen too.

7. Continue Making Family Time Important

We eat together as a family nearly every single night. Family dinners have been consistent family time since our children were newborns. My kids can count on this time together as a family. Even as our kids schedules get more difficult to work around, just knowing that we have that face time together is important. If you set up enough regular opportunities when you have time together, the tweens will know that they can depend on that time to be a time they can connect with you.

8. Create a Warm Environment

The mood of the house can definitely be felt by all it's members. If I am in a bad mood and greet my husband when he comes home from work with a negative attitude, that attitude has a ripple effect throughout the home. The same can be said for your children. It's important to create a warm environment that your family will want to come home to and be open to inviting their friends to. This means setting the tone with your attitude but it also means making sure your home is a warm place to land. I love flipping on the fireplace because as soon as I turn it on, people in my home gather near it. I flop on the floor nearby and usually have a kid or a dog snuggle in within minutes. When we were looking for homes, I know we kept homes with carpet on our radar. There is something about having carpet that brings a softness into your home making it warm and comfortable. Not only that, we are a noisy family and carpet helps to reduce the noise in our home and dampen the sounds that we make. 

Because we all want to create a warm soft place for our children to land, grow and mature in, the Carpet and Rug Institute is giving away a $500 Visa Gift Card to one lucky reader! You can find more information about the benefits of carpet in your home, how to select the right carpet and cleaning and maintenance of your carpets on the CRI website. Click over to visit CRI and enter to win.


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