How to Fix Rude "Tween" Behavior

Preteens aren't children anymore, but they're not quite young adults. During these "tween" years, kids may exhibit rude behavior - sarcastic remarks, eye-rolling, sudden outbursts, and sullen silences. As tweens adjust to their changing world and surging hormones, you may find it hard to keep the house stress-free.

How can you navigate restore peace at home? Here are some simple tips to follow:

rude tween boy
  • Set clear boundaries. The rules that you had when your child was 6 years old are not going to apply at this age. Decide what's important to you to help you reset them: is it more important that your preteen is honest and has good grades, or that he not roll his eyes and has a clean room? Once you decide what's important, you can overlook the little things, like an annoyed sigh when you give directions. As soon as preteen behaviors you don't want begin - like walking off in the middle of a conversation - clearly tell your child that you cannot tolerate that.
  • Maintain your parental status. You are not your preteen's friend. You are a parent, so take control. Don't do things to make your kids think you're cool. Your actions should make them better people.
  • Choose a tween-appropriate punishment. Preteens don't care about little rewards or punishments as they get older. Instead, when bad behavior happens, remove a favorite activity or privilege - like TV or going to a friend's house. Don't say things you can't enforce, like banning something forever or "grounded for life." If you keep it up, preteens will learn to avoid things that have a negative consequence.
  • Show respect. Don't ever interrupt or insult your preteen. That way, you model what respect looks like. If your preteen shows disrespect to you, remind them that you're a person too, and you have feelings that can also be hurt.
  • Cool off. Let preteens take a minute to calm down. If that means going to their room for 15 minutes, fine. Just make sure you know where they are during their cool-off time, and give yourself a moment to breathe too.
  • Have some face-to-face time. Invite your preteen to walk the dog with you, to help you grocery shop, or just take a drive with you. The easiest way to tell if a behavior change is temporary or permanent is to spend time getting to know your child one-on-one. If you do it enough, they will learn to trust you and come to you for help. Ask questions, and listen when they speak.
  • Bond as a family. Take the time to be together as a whole family. Make and eat dinner together, play a board game once a week, visit a new spot in town - do something regularly that allows you to talk and have fun without texting or having other people over.

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