Perspective from a Mother of an 11-Year old daughter
I’ve had so many people tell me recently to prepare for what’s about to come. My daughter is 11, and according to some of my friends who’ve already been through the teenage stage, she’s going to probably start to isolate herself from me and not want me around so much. I hate hearing this, it’s terrifying, please deliver my bubble NOW! I’ve been wanting one for 11 years, now I want one more than ever.
I know that’s not possible, but if it were, I’d probably be one of the first to take advantage. I’m a slightly overprotective parent, but so far, my kids have been okay with it. In this world of fake everything, I try to teach realness and honesty, and the older and older my kids get, the more they become exposed to things that I would pay good money to protect them from. Love and prayers are my savior. I realize they’re going to experience the bad in this world at some point, I just want them to know that I’m always here to help them navigate and understand. I NEVER want them to feel like they can’t talk to me about anything!
My baby girl and I’ve always been close, she’s always been very open when it comes to anything on her mind. She’s never afraid to ask me questions or tell me when something happened at school. So, here I am trying to figure out what I can do to prevent her from changing the way she feels about me over the next 8-10 years. I’m sure some of you who are reading this are saying “good luck!” Please send it this way, I know I’ll need it!
The Tween Stage
Having an 11-year old daughter definitely comes with its rewards and challenges. Trying to manage through this stage gracefully, meanwhile preparing her for puberty is scary not only for her, but my husband and I as well. When I think back to when I was about to be a teenager, I think of how naive I was. I felt so unprepared for what seemed like the rude awakenings of life. Middle School and even worse High School! Maybe if I’d known what to expect, instead of the pretend drama seen in movies or on TV (and I was an 80’s & 90’s child), I would have been a little happier throughout my adolescence.
Preparing for Them for Adolescence
I’m definitely NOT a parenting expert and haven’t lived through this yet, but here’s what I suggest to-do and pray it helps. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going over the years!
Setting Them Up for Successful Adolescence
Set a good example. How you handle stress and anxiety will impact her. If she sees you stressed and angry and then yelling or turning to alcohol to chill out, it’s likely she will think this is the best way to handle things. Teach her to recognize when she starts feeling sad or anxious and walk away, remove herself from the situation and take a break. Give her the tools she needs to calm down. Suggest she take a walk, workout, do some yoga, diffuse some oils, go for a drive (when she’s old enough, of course), take a bath, listen to loud music, or calming music whichever she prefers.
Spend dedicated time with her. At this stage in her life, she needs you more than ever, even if she doesn’t say it. Give her your undivided attention, DAILY, and when you can dedicate a morning or an entire day with her do it! Do something fun, these years are going to be confusing, serious and physically and mentally challenging, let her be a kid as long as she can!
Routine. Keep life as predictable and routine as possible. As with a small child, routines are necessary, but in adolescence they can give them a sense of security at home. If they know what to expect, they are more likely to respect their boundaries.
Give her chores. Hopefully, she’s been doing chores for a while, but now that she’s older, it’s okay for her to be responsible for even more things around the house. Maybe she cooks dinner once a week? Or maybe it’s time she learns to mow the lawn? Chores are part of being a family and sharing responsibility, not to mention a way to teach life skills.
Talk. Not just serious talk, ALL talk, talk about what’s going on with the family, the weather, politics, caring for the Earth, music, whatever comes to mind. It’s so important to keep lines of communication open always! Let her know that friends will come and go, but you will always be there for her.
Teach her to make healthy choices. Teach her to respect her body and nourish it with proper nutrition, exercise, and rest. This is another important area to set a good example. Don’t body shame yourself, show her that women and girls are beautiful from the inside out, and that our bodies are special for all they can do and we must take care of them. Food is fuel, she must fuel her body with plenty of fruits and veggies and keep herself hydrated to ensure proper functioning organs and natural detoxing system. Teaching her to cook healthy meals, and encouraging her to choose healthy snacks at this age will go a long way in the road to a healthy life.
If she’s athletic encourage her to participate in a sport. If she likes to be more independent when she’s physically active, help her to make activities such as running, riding bikes, yoga fun and a part of her daily routine. The stress relieving benefits of exercise will help her to feel better, sleep better, and ward off depression.
Support and encourage her interests. Around this age, they start to really discover what they truly enjoy doing. Nourish it, support her, and encourage her to pursue her dreams. Talents tend to go one way or the other at this age. If she hasn’t found what she loves to do, help her to explore her options. They need you to be positive and supportive.
Give lots of love, hugs, and cuddles. Show her that it’s okay to be affectionate. Human touch goes a long way at reducing stress and anxiety levels. Research has shown that a hug releases a hormone called Oxytocin which is related to reduced stress levels. She needs to hear that she’s loved too, so tell her multiple times a day!
They’re still our babies and always will be, we need to give them all we’ve got while they’re still around! Because they grow up way too fast!