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How Do I Get Along with My Tween Daughter?

Now is an exciting time for your daughter as she navigates the bridge between childhood and her teenage years. She is beginning to see herself as an individual and how she fits into the world. The move from elementary to middle school will bring new friends and a wider range of influences from teachers and peers. As a parent you’re navigating that bridge right along with her. The journey will be that much more rewarding if the two of you can get along.

Young teenagers are looking to have more control in their lives. Your daughter will buy in more frequently if she’s the one with the idea so as much as possible let her do the thinking. In fact, it’s a good time to play dumb and let her be the expert. She’ll gain confidence in finding solutions and feel as though she’s holding the reigns of her own life at the same time. She’ll be less resistant to your hard and fast rules if she’s had input in other areas.

Practicing empathy can go a long way in getting along with your tween. To truly understand another person we must listen to them and then listen some more. Remember, she’s entered a new part of her life and will have new hopes, fears and dreams to go along with it. Work to validate her feelings without minimizing them or sweeping them under the rug. Resist the urge to fix the situation for her. Being there for her while she works through her feelings will strengthen her emotional resiliency while reinforcing the bond between the two of you.

Inevitably, you and your daughter will clash but since anger can quickly erode bonds strive to control and express your anger constructively. It’s important not to lose control with your child. When your anger escalates, you’re inviting her to escalate too. Calm yourself with deep breathing and positive self talk before resuming your discussion. Later try to identify the progression of your feelings from OK to angry. Identify the level at which you can’t express yourself constructively and learn to not engage with your child as this point.

Raising a family takes an extraordinary amount of time and energy so work to keep your own emotional bank full. Take time to connect with friends and pursue your personal interests and hobbies. The energy you get from these efforts will naturally overflow into your relationship with your daughter. Your role in her life is changing as you gradually slip into the back seat. Nurture those bonds and you’ll both be sure to enjoy the ride.