7 Ways to Fix Rude Tween Behavior
Tips to deal with your child's attitude as she grows into a teenager
This may be especially true if it seems that your kid has gone from happy to snappy before her time. After all, this is the kind of behavior you expect from 13- and 14-year-olds -- not kids who haven't even hit the double digits. But the onset of sassiness is not your fault. With adolescence looming, kids naturally feel compelled to start going their own way. "They're not intentionally being disobedient," says Mary-Ann Lowry, a parenting coach and educator from Thousand Oaks, CA. "They're on a path toward 'individuation,' when they really try to figure out who they are separate from you."
And then, of course, there are myriad outside influences. Thanks to cell phones and texting, for example, tweens are developing closer bonds with their peer groups and, as a result, pushing away from their parents at earlier ages. Plus, many TV shows and even books aimed at this age group often portray adults as clueless fools -- as any parent who's been on the receiving end of "Duh!" can attest.
It's worth noting, too, that regardless of when tween 'tude sets in, boys and girls tend to act out differently. "Girls get dramatic and overreact, while boys alternate between withdrawing and being defiant," says Lowry. When Maura Rhodes, a mom of four in Montclair, NJ, mentioned that she didn't want her kids to grow up to be rude or ugly, her 10-year-old daughter, Eliza, fixated on the wrong message. "You just called me ugly!" she cried, and ran upstairs to her room, threw herself across her bed, and sobbed. "Of course, I was referring to ugly behavior, " says Rhodes. "But Eliza homed in on the 'u' word and decided I was referring to her appearance -- because, after all, she's a tween girl, and what else do tween girls care about?"
By contrast, Dawn Blanchfield's 12-year-old son, Kyle, is now bigger than she is and has taken to playing the tough guy. "He'll do that 'Yo, dawg, what up?' posturing. It can actually be intimidating to the entire family, but I don't think he realizes that," says the mom of two from Sacramento, CA.