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Dos And Don’ts: Tips For Parents With Tweens

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Parents get plenty of advice, especially when kids are little and when they start to rebel as teens. But what about the years in between?

“What often gets overlooked is the tweens — the in-betweens — as if there’s nothing happening during those years,” said Dr. Dave Walsh, of Mind Positive Parenting. Walsh and his daughter, Erin, worked through those years together. Now they work together on Mind Positive ParentingThe two say parents of tweens need to develop new instincts to help their kids mature. So we hit the slopes to test some things you shouldn’t do to help children grow up.

Matt Allen is an 8th grader, and an expert snowboarder. He’s so good he made the elite G-team. And his mother, Ann Allen, trusts in his skills. “He can do a backflip on it…it’s very scary,” she said. “I trust that he’s got the skill or he wouldn’t be trying it.” But trusting a kid’s snowboarding skills is one thing. Trusting his life skills is another.

That’s why our experts put together these reminders.

1. Support, but don’t rescue.

For example, when helping with homework, don’t take over the job of solving the problem or completing the task. “There’s nothing wrong with a hint…but doing it for them, I think…is the easy way out,” said Dave Walsh.

2. Give kids what they need, but don’t give them everything they want.

Rod McCutcheon is a parent who practices this. His 12-year-old son’s skis were handed down from his sister, and he just got a bare bones cell phone for safety reasons — after three years of asking. “My older daughter got [a cell phone] when she turned 12, so he wanted one immediately when she got hers, but we made 12 the rule,” McCutcheon said.

Erin Walsh said giving kids everything they want puts parents on a treadmill of constant giving. “There’s nothing wrong, also, with having gifts,” Erin Walsh said. “This is about coming back into balance.”

3. Don’t do things for your kids that they should do themselves.

For example, let them order their own food and speak for themselves — even if you’re tempted to do it for them. “As time goes on you start to learn what their boundaries become,” said Greg Lind, a parent. “[Kids] start developing their own boundaries.”

“Once again, we want our kids to develop their own competence, own resilience, and their own muscles,” Dave Walsh said. When parents do everything for their kids, that may give the impression that a parent thinks their child is incompetent, according to Erin Walsh. “The subtext to that is: I don’t think you can do it yourself; I don’t have the confidence in you that you can figure this out,” she said.

4. Don’t develop an allergy to your children’s unhappiness.

“We want to kind of take care of things…that’s not our job. Our job is to make sure that our kids have the shock absorbers, so they can handle the bumps themselves; because we’re not always going to be there to bail them out,” Dave Walsh said.

There’s also one really big don’t at the tween stage: Don’t try to pick your kids’ friends or tell them they shouldn’t be friends with somebody. Instead, try to make friends with their friends and create an open-house environment for those kids.

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