7-9 YEARS OLD

When did your chatty preschooler morph into a dis­tant, non-com­mu­nica­tive tween? DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON of­fers ways to cope.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Why did your chatty preschooler morph into a dis­tant, non-com­mu­nica­tive tween?

vour tween used to be very chatty when he was a preschooler – he would talk to you non-stop about any­thing and ev­ery­thing.

fn those ear­lier years, he was de­lighted to share his news with you, and he was ready to lis­ten to your ad­vice.

But now he is less open and mum­bles grudg­ingly at you. eis stan­dard re­ply to ev­ery ques­tion is ei­ther “Oh”, “No”, or “f don’t know”, and you are left won­der­ing what hap­pened to make him change.

then a child reaches this stage, a num­ber of things hap­pen. First, he de­vel­ops a stronger sense of self, a greater re­al­i­sa­tion that he is an in­de­pen­dent young per­son with his own ideas and val­ues.

ee be­gins to chal­lenge your views, not be­cause he wants to an­tag­o­nise you but be­cause he wants to ex­plore his own al­ter­na­tives, and one of this tran­si­tion’s side ef­fects is his re­luc­tance to be so open with you.

Sec­ond, it is very likely that your pre­teen is con­cerned about the phys­i­cal changes that arise from pu­berty. ee sees his body ma­ture, and un­der­stand­ably, he prefers to talk to his pals about this.

Of course, he may still want to ask you ques­tions but he’ll be em­bar­rassed about this, whereas he is more com­fort­able speak­ing to his friends.

Third, your child will prob­a­bly choose to wear clothes that are dif­fer­ent from the ones you would se­lect, and he’ll prob­a­bly lis­ten to mu­sic that is not to your taste.

Mak­ing dis­tinc­tive choices is his way of telling you that he is grow­ing up, that he will not au­to­mat­i­cally agree with ev­ery­thing you say and do.

And last, his peer group as­sumes greater im­por­tance. ee loves you and wants you to love him, but he also needs to be ac­cepted and val­ued by his friends. So he prefers to talk to them than to you.

eere are some sug­ges­tions for en­cour­ag­ing your tween to talk to you, de­spite his re­luc­tance:

You can­not force your child to re­veal his in­ner­most feel­ings – if you try too hard, he’ll be­come even more dis­tant.

Ac­cept his right to pri­vacy

hnock on his bed­room door be­fore en­ter­ing, if that makes him feel more com­fort­able. tithin lim­its, he should have pri­vacy within his own room.

And don’t read his pri­vate text mes­sages when he care­lessly leaves his smart­phone ly­ing around. Tell him that you un­der­stand he wants to keep some mat­ters pri­vate now that he’s older, but add that you are al­ways will­ing to lis­ten if he wants to talk.

Don’t push too hard

The more re­luc­tant your tween is to talk to you about some­thing, the more you might try to push him to talk. This will not work.

vou can­not force your child to re­veal his in­ner­most feel­ings, no mat­ter what you threaten him with – if you try too hard, he’ll be­come even more dis­tant. then you see the shut­ters are down, leave the con­ver­sa­tion alone for a while. vou can al­ways re­turn to it later.

Talk to him about events in your life

gust be­cause he has de­cided to be less open, doesn’t mean you have to do the same. ff you did, no­body will be speak­ing to any­one in your house!

Talk to him about the main events in your life, and about fam­ily mat­ters. This keeps the chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open and main­tains the habit of fam­ily dis­cus­sions, even though he doesn’t want to par­tic­i­pate at the mo­ment.

Be there for him

No mat­ter how lit­tle your tween talks to you, make sure he knows you are there for him. bx­plain to him that there may be times when he wants to tell you some­thing that you may not want to hear (for in­stance, he wants to stay overnight at a friend’s house), but that you would rather he told you than he kept it se­cret. ee needs to know that your com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels never close.

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