Tuesday, April 30, 2019

6 Simple Ways To Connect With Your Tween Daughter

And just like that, I had a tween daughter.

And just like that, I had to up my connection game. 

Understand, a tween has a lot going on.  She is caught between the child years and the teen years.  She might be mature one minute and temperamental the next.  Puberty is in full-force.  Tween years are confusing and exciting.  And you may find yourself wondering how in the world you will navigate the ups and downs while staying connected to your child.  

(If you, like me, are parenting adoptees, you know why connection is super important!)

1:  Get creative.

We use this journal to connect with one another.  We also do something called "create art for the other."  We basically created a piece of artwork for the other person and then had a "big reveal."  You could do other things:  create a playlist for each other, for example.   If you're less likely to "invent" creativity, try coloring side-by-side.  I highly recommend this hair coloring book for Black girls or one of these affirming, encouraging coloring books (one is faith based, one is not).  If your daughter is more active, go on a nature hike together, play basketball, etc. 

2:  Take her on a date.

This need not be expensive or all that creative.  A date might mean browsing the bookstore or library together, grabbing tea or ice cream, or painting pottery.   Anything that doesn't involve a screen is great!   The point is to talk and have fun.  

3:  Play what she likes.

My tween is really big into a few specific toys right now.  Sometimes I'll plop on the floor of her room and say, show me your favorites right now!  I can instantly see the light in her eyes.   It gives her the opportunity to be an expert/leader on a subject and for me to be the listener/learner.   Another option is to have your tween teach you something.  For example, my daughter is in ballet and loves showing me moves!

4:  Read to her.  

Reading a book aloud is a great way to get into your tween's world.  What is reading?  What interests her?  What will happen next?   A chapter book is great, and I think bedtime, when all is cozy and more quiet, is a great time to read together.  Because my tween is doing some therapies right now involving her vision, we use the evening time for my hubby to read to her, this devotional and this Black girl chapter book, while my daughter wears her special glasses and listens.  

5:  When she wants to talk, you listen.

I know this sounds SO simple, but it's really challenging.  The reason it's important to stop and listen is because tweens are dealing with big (and swinging) moods and emotions.   So to say "just a minute" or "let's talk about that later" may mean missing the conversation completely.   If the conversation is too big/involved for the moment, it's OK to acknowledge the importance of what's being shared and agree to a time when you'll devote your full attention to brain-storming and problem-solving.  Just make sure you address it that day.   And please, please check out the glitter jar analogy.  It's a game-changer!  

6:  Surprises.

One thing that can bring a tween joy are surprises.  Take her lunch at school or put a note in her lunchbox.  Buy her something just-because.  Take her on a date (#2).  Leave something lovely on her bed to discover when she gets home from school.  Tape a note to the bathroom mirror.  Surprises, like dates, do not need to be expensive or big.  A simple surprise can convey how much you love your child and believe in her.  This new book, specifically for teen adoptees, is a creative diary of sorts.

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