Keeping It Real With Older Kids

My oldest kid is eight now… going on 9… going on 20… It’s a bit of a debacle as we figure out how to raise his sassy little big self.  I think the tween years start now.

In the past week I’ve completely embarrassed him (this is new), had the door shut in my face for telling him to be happy while skipping around with a silly grin on my face, and watched him pack his bags while saying he was going to run away from home.  Other than a recent move, not much has changed around here… except his personality which is growing at a rapid rate.  He bosses his little sister around talking like an adult.  Thinks he knows quite a lot about things.  And I’m sure he would be perfectly happy to not have a mom and dad on certain days (or two annoying sisters).

While I have been able to laugh inwardly at his awkward growth and understand that he is nearing a new and very long phase of adolescents, I’ve been trying to come up with effective (and nondestructive) strategies to discipline and to simply get  him to listen to me at all.  Something I’m finding that has been working well, thus far, is finding something to relate to him when in either conversation or augment.

For example, this afternoon we were finishing up schooling and it was time to clean.  He had been banished to his room for waking up the baby by pounding ice with a hammer outside of her room (these are desperate times–baby nap time is precious!) so he was already grumpy with me.  When he came out, I told him it was time to straighten up the house for the evening and he grumbled under his breath that he would rather be in time out.  Now, I have an advantage here because his Karate class is tonight.  So I told him the class was at stake.  That seemed to make him more interested in following instructions but not pleasantly.  So I put it in other terms.  “You say you don’t want to clean, and well, I don’t want to take you to karate.  So how about you don’t clean and I won’t take you to karate and we will both be happy!” I said with a calm smile.  “But I want to go to karate!!” He whimpered, looking a little more worried now.  And a little more understanding.  I explained that we don’t always get to do what we want to do when we want to do it and sometimes we have to do something we don’t want to do in order to do what we do want to do. (Whew! I’ve never said “do” so many times!) It clicked.  He cleaned what I asked him to clean with a pleasant attitude and the day moved forward.

It’s all a learning curve.  Parenting is anything but stagnate and I have to learn how to keep up with these changing times.  I am finding it easier to relate to my children as they get older.  I’m looking forward to having deeper conversations and helping them into adulthood as best as I can.

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