By Lori Lite
Anxiety and stress with teenagers are at an all-time high for tweens. They are transitioning from child to teen and want to show us (parents) that they are nothing like us and they no longer need us in their lives. Tweens are bombarded with internal and external stressors. School, dating, peer pressure, technology, and hormones are just some of the factors that can cause tweens stress and anxieties. They feel awake when we think it is bedtime and in some cases need to be awake at extremely early hours. Time on the computer, phone, and in their rooms with the door closed, creates a disconnect with parents. Underneath it all they are scared, confused, and stressed. In many cases they may actually feel lonely and isolated. Being a tween today is unlike anything we have ever imagined or experienced.
It is more important than ever to keep lines of communication open. One stress free way to communicate with a tween is to write them a letter. Tweens have selective hearing and can check out the minute you ask them to put their clothes away. Below is an outline of a letter to a tween that can bring you closer and eliminate some stress and anger along the way.
This letter is meant as a springboard to your own letter. Expectations, rules, and times will vary from family to family. Use this as a guideline and personalize it, so that it will create a solid, calm foundation for your family.
Letter to my tween:
We are writing to you because Dad and I realize that you want to have freedom and do things without us nagging you, and we agree with you. We want to work together with you so that we can eliminate nagging and give you a plan to develop more independence. Please know that we support you and your quest to be more on your own. We want you to have a clear understanding of what is expected for you to do and what your responsibilities are. This will help you achieve the independence you are looking for.
When you follow the suggestions on the list….you will be rewarded with more privileges, independence, an allowance, and you will have a sense of accomplishment.
If you do not want to do what is on this list….understand that there will be consequences just like you have in school and will one day have in a job. If you don’t complete something on time, such as homework/projects, chores, or if you act out, fail a test, you will lose privileges, your grades will drop and bottom line you will lose trust, freedom, and independence.
All your homework must be done, signed, printed out, and packed up before 10 pm. If you need help please ask.
TV, computers, cell phones must be turned off by 11 pm.
If you do not want to, or cannot fall asleep, we ask you to relax or study in your room. You might want to try listening to relaxation music or journaling.
Hygiene: (yes some tweens need this to be spelled out)
You truly need to shower every day, trust me you will feel so much better.
You hair should be washed at least 2 or 3 times a week, at your age now it will look greasy and dirty.
Wet towels must be picked up off the floor and hung up to dry.
Laundry must be done every week. This means that you need to do at least two loads of laundry a week and put away by Sunday night, so that there are fresh clean clothes to start the week.
Computer and Phone Use:
Every day: phone calls and computer can only be used when all HW and Studying are done. Remember that cell phones and computers are privileges. If your grades are where they should be then you will have more freedom with your phone. If your grades are not, then you will have more restrictions placed on usage.
Computers and phones shut down at 11pm.
On game days there will be NO computer or phone use when we get home as it is too late.
You will speak to us with respect. We are your parents and keep in mind we always have your best interests at heart. We love you very much and deserve to be treated with respect. You need to say “thank you” for things we do for you. (I.e. driving you to the mall. etc.)
You are NOT allowed to slam doors or do anything else that is disrespectful to us or our house. If you are angry about something, it is best for everyone if you take a few minutes or more to calm yourself down so that we can talk about it in a calm manner. We all get angry at times and we all need to learn this skill and control it in order to be successful for the rest of your life. This is also part of being independent and responsible for your actions.
Honesty: You must always be honest and give us information. When we know where you are going, who you are going with, and what you are doing, we feel much more comfortable and are more apt to work with you when you ask for a few more minutes. We also know plans change, if you are changing plans you need to let us know the new plans. We are not asking you because we do not trust you. We are asking you so that we know you are safe and we will not worry. After all, we want to enjoy ourselves too.
You must say “goodnight” every night and hopefully you will want to say “I love you.” (We do love you.)
Make your bed every day
Laundry 1 or 2 or more loads a week as previously discussed.
Put drinks in the refrigerator (please check every other day)
Clean up after yourself
Set table for dinner
Walk the dogs and give them fresh water after school
Maintain a B or above grade average
Rewards: fill in with clear rewards
Consequences: fill in with clear consequences and have a way for them to earn points towards shortening the consequence. Example…If they lose use of cell phone for 2 days, they can get it back earlier for getting back on track and following the rules, showing you responsibilities without being asked. The whole point of a consequence is to change or improve attitude, grades or behavior instead of seeing it as a punishment. This makes it a win, win for everyone.
Please remember our door is ALWAYS open for you. We are your parents, we love you and respect you and only want the same in return. We are always open to listen to your feelings/thoughts and even if possible compromise on an issue we don’t agree on. If we do this together, I know we will all be happier and it will help eliminate stresses for all involved.
We Love You, Mom and Dad
Teens are easier to live with when they are well rested and know how to manage stress and anger. Indigo Teen Dreams introduces your teen to relaxation music and techniques.
Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite has created a line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. For more information visit Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and Facebook.