As our children grow up, what they need from us, as their parents and carers changes.
Instead of cuddles and playtime together, our daughters start to need things like boundaries, discipline, and an open and non-judgmental ear.
Ramita, founder of Elevate.RA, shared some of her most useful tips for parents of girls heading into their teen years with us here:
As a mother myself and an educator that works primarily with tween and teen girls, this is an area where I have particular interest and experience. I founded Elevate.RA, a mentorship programme specifically focused on tween and teen girls experiencing challenge or difference which hinders them from being their best selves.
Before I developed the Elevate.RA programme, I worked for over 15 years in classrooms around the world as a teacher in diverse schools. This gave me valuable tools and techniques that I have incorporated into my mentorship curriculum.
Today, I’m here to share some of my best strategies and tips for how parents of tween girls can stay connected to their daughters as they hit these turbulent teenage years.
Why are the Teenage Years So Challenging?
First, let’s briefly touch on some of the reasons why these years are so challenging.
For girls, their brain reaches its biggest size when they’re around 11 years of age. While this is the largest the brain gets, there are still many opportunities for development and maturity. That’s why the teenage brain is referred to as ‘plastic’. This simply means that it’s more prepared to change and adapt than the average adult brain.
All these changes typically make tweens and teens more vulnerable to stress and less likely to rely on the decision-making parts of their brain. After all, that part of the brain is still developing, making them more likely to rely on their emotions, impulses, and intuitive feelings.
Developing a better understanding of what’s going on in our child’s brain can offer parents insights into why their daughter may be acting more impulsive and irrational and why seemingly minor stressors can have such an outsized impact.
Tips for Connecting with a Daughter Headed into Her Teen Years
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the physiological reasons behind some of your daughter’s more challenging behaviours, it’s easier to empathize with her and create more opportunities for connection.
Here are some of my best tips for ways that parents can connect with their daughters as they reach their teen years.
1. Schedule it
Between school, socializing, and hobbies, teens can get very busy. A great way to maintain your connection is to regularly schedule one-on-one time. Once a month or so, pick a fun activity to do together. This can be anything that brings you both joy.
2. Share their interests
During the teen years, our daughters are hard at work trying to figure out who they are, what they like, and what brings them joy. If they express interest in a new hobby, interest, or skill, try to join in and let them share their interests with you.
3. Share stories from when they were younger
As she navigates the turbulent teen years, sharing warm memories of your daughter as a young child will help establish a connection to her family and will also help her develop her sense of self.
4. Be available
Being available and open-minded when your daughter wants to talk is one of the most important ways parents can foster an even deeper connection. Demonstrate and model active listening with your tween, which means being very present, focused and refraining from any judgement or advice on whatever they choose to share.
5. Be honest
In addition to being available, being honest is also incredibly important. If you continually lie or exaggerate situations to your daughter, you will quickly lose her trust. Your honesty will also help her feel more comfortable confiding in you as she grows up.
Want to learn more about navigating life with a teenager?