As if the pandemic hasn’t been super exhausting for us parents, add some exhausted kids and what do you get? Attitude, behavioral issues and daily tantrums! That’s right, my ten year old daughter has officially reached the point in the pandemic where she is over virtual schooling, tired of not being able to hug her friends and sick of being told no for certain activities at the risk of catching the big C.
About two weeks ago, I noticed that she was very distant; not paying attention in virtual school, twiddling her thumbs when I spoke and just was not here for any of it. Let me be clear, the typically pre-teen attitude has always been there, but typically my daughter is super excited about school, learning the whole nine yards. She is an over achiever in fact, and always try to show her leadership skills so this behavior was very off! Being so caught up with work, my toddler son who is on 100 from he wakes up until the moment he goes to sleep and annual budget planning; somehow I missed our usual (daily) check ins. She has been doing breakfast by herself because most mornings I am trying to catch up on work from the day before. Usually we take a walk during our lunch break, but with the end of year approaching, I have been using any and every “free time” to get work done.
Noticing her complete change, I intentionally set time out this weekend to connect. To begin, I allowed her to spend a night by her grandparents ( a mini staycation) away from her baby brother, who does not give her time by herself, and me. This was the break she needed! Once she got back, we spent the evening baking together, which has always been her favorite thing to do with me. On Sunday, I took her with me to go grocery shopping and then allowed her to get involved in cooking the family dinner. She absolutely loves cooking and this was the perfect opportunity to cook and reconnect.
This morning she is up and in great spirits; she got up on her own, made breakfast and came to ask if I wanted to join her (here comes the tears). One of the best lessons I have learned as a mother is learning how to talk to kids so that they will connect and listen. Here are some talking tips that has worked for me with a very moody and opinionated preteen:
Connect before directing: find a way to connect with your child in a way that is pure and genuine. Be present in the moment and give your child your full attention
Be an active listener: As a mom, sometimes it is hard for us to listen to our kids, especially when they are giving off an attitude and not listening. Learning to sit back and allow your kids to openly and freely express themselves is super important.
Give them space: You know that feelin you get when you are tired of being wanted and needed by your kids, your husband and everyone in between? Yes, the feeling you get when you just want to hang out with your girls, kids feel this way too. So give them space!
Stay Brief: The attention span of a child is typically very short. Keep your conversations short, sweet and to the point so that they are not bored and can grasp the lesson being taught.
Ask for Feedback: Children at a certain age can benefit from a level of independence, allowing them to be a part of the decision making process allows them to experience this independence while being a part of something.
Close the Conversations: If your child is requesting something, provide a complete answer. If you do not have the answer right away, give a deadline for when they can expect an answer. Do not leave things lingering.
Having kids who actually listen is a very hard job but not impossible. Practice consistently doing the above and watch the difference it makes!