"Excellent job, Fiona!" "That's a smart idea - keep up the good work!" These words make a big impression on kids who are 7 and 8 years old, but by around age 12, sugarcoating starts to fall on deaf ears. New research from the Netherlands has found that while little kids respond best to positive feedback, spurring your child to take responsibility and try harder tends to work better with tweens. "An older child's brain can handle more advanced thought processing," explains Eveline Crone, Ph.D., lead author of this study. They're beginning to be more adept at sifting through choices (X wasn't correct the first time, so maybe Y is right) rather than continuing along the same path, as younger kids do. The next time you're faced with a tween dilemma, try these tell-it-like-it-is tactics:
The Issue: She's rude to her sister
You Say: "Not a smart choice of words. Try it again, and this time be sincere."
The Issue: She doesn't want to eat what you cooked
You Say: "You'll have to make yourself something else for dinner then."
The Issue: She got a D in math
You Say: "We're going to curtail TV watching until this grade comes up. It's time for some serious studying."