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Are you struggling to connect with an emotional tween? There are MANY changes that happen as your child grows from tween to teen. As a mom of 5, I know this well. But one of the biggest shifts is the rollercoaster of emotions that kicks off during this time.
Connecting with your child and winning their heart in the day to day can be hard enough. Throw in the downpour of emotions they experience during tweens and you can easily find yourself overwhelmed wondering how you can still connect with them! Today I hope to encourage you. Let’s look together at 6 ways you can connect with your emotional tween!
How To Connect With Your Emotional Tween
Connect with your emotional tween by listening.
One of the best ways we can be intentional in connecting with our emotional tween is to listen to them. I know, that seems silly to say right? After all, we spend all day, every day listening to them, don’t we? Well, maybe not as much as we think. We live in a world full of distractions. Between the busyness of life, homeschooling and work or ministry it can be surprising (even to us) how little we actually listen to our kids… but they know.
Let me ask you a question. How often have you asked your child to “pay attention” or listen to you? If you have any children, it’s safe to say MANY times 🙂 We too need to be mindful of distractions (phones, computers, other kiddos etc) when talking with our kids. Not only should we try our best to put away distractions, but we need to “actively” listen as well.
We should offer our full attention (including full eye contact), and engage in the conversation. Ask questions for further details, repeat back what is being said and then patiently (eek!) wait for their response. This way they will feel “heard” and that will build a connection where they will want to reach out to you during those emotional highs and lows.
So, to the Mom who is mustering up the patience to sit and talk out today’s concerns with your emotional tween for 45 minutes at bedtime, I feel you, I’m praying for you, but let me encourage you to keep at it!
Remember compassion when connecting with your emotional tween.
When the emotional roller coaster sets in (yes, even as early as 8-9 years old) one of the hardest things can be to hold on to compassion. If “everything is wrong” or it’s just one trouble after another, it can be much easier to say enough already!
Now don’t get me wrong, there are times where healthy breaks to calm down are needed. It can help with that shift you both need to reclaim your thoughts and try again. But many times, I find myself praying for compassion in the moment because I don’t have any left. When I ask God to show me our kid’s hearts and needs through His eyes, the compassion flows. When compassion flows, your emotional tween will feel it, and your connection to their heart will grow stronger!
Build a connection with your tween by letting go and bringing back.
If I had to sum up my time spent as a parent in the tween stage so far, it would be a lot of learning how to navigate ‘letting them go and bringing them back’. There are so many ways we, as parents, need to learn to let the reigns go a bit. This will build their confidence, independence and help them grow in many areas!
But then, in turn, we need to be a safe place for them when they do fall. And they will fall, Mom. They are learning too. This part of tween parenting is important in building a connection to their heart but with an emotional tween, this is crucial!
We need to teach our tweens how to handle their emotions in a God-honoring way. That is the goal. Doing this means giving them the tools and support they need….and then yes, let them figure out which of those work best for them. We need to continually hand over our children to the Lord to do His work – even with an emotional tween. He does it far better than we ever could!
Find similar interests to connect with your emotional tween.
One of my favorite ways to connect with my kids is to find similar interests! I DO understand this can be challenging for many moms. Some of your kids may be more like you, which makes connecting with them naturally easier.
I have also found that there are interests, different for each of our 5 kids, that God has used as a connecting point. It’s been amazing to see!
It’s so fun to connect with them and their interests and it’s eye-opening to see the person God is growing them to be. Connecting with your child’s interests can be in little or big ways. If you are having trouble finding interests then start small. A song, book or movie that you both like can spark great conversation.
Nothing yet? Try my favorite.
Notice a verse that you both like and ask questions as to why they like it or what they think about it.
Still can’t find anything? Pray!
God is faithful. He cares about connecting with our child’s heart even more than you do. I believe He will show you some similar interest if you ask Him!
Connect with your child during one on one time.
As our children grow from toddler to kiddo to the infamous tweens it can be easy to start lessening your focus on one on one time with Mom or Dad. After all, we just talked about this being the stage of letting go. But the one on one time is part of the “bringing them back” that is very needed.
Building a connection to your child through intentional one on one time is crucial. Dare I say it is as important through the tweens to teens as it is in the toddler stage? Yes, I believe it is. But here is the key – they likely don’t even know they need it.
One on one time won’t necessarily look the same. Toddlers get whiny or act out when they need some “mom time”. Tweens can get emotional as a sign too, but they are also likely to say nothing at all.
If you aren’t aware of the importance of connecting with them individually, then they can start to pull away and lose the connection you do have.
Please understand I know how challenging this can be! With 5 kids, homeschool, working from home and ministry, the time to connect with each can be hard to come by. But let me encourage you today that small connections are seeds. With time and in a different season they can grow into something amazing!
One on one time reading together, writing them notes, building something or cooking together can lay a beautiful foundation for connection. Believe it or not, they will grow into teens – even faster than you think! There will be a season for more in-depth one on one time. One that can offer more time than you may have right now and that’s ok. Lay the foundation, it all counts. Take advantage of the time you have. Please don’t feel like small connections are insignificant – they are not! Small steps, slow and steady Mama. There is fruit ahead!
Prayer is key to connecting with your emotional tween.
As with any parenting topic, God’s word and prayer continue to be the most important and most effective! When you are struggling or wondering how to connect with your emotional tween, stop and pray! God is so faithful to guide us. Pray with your tween during or after particularly emotional times depending on the situation.
Teach them that emotions are ok and God-given and that we are created in His image as emotional beings. Prayer is a great way for them to see that He wants to help us with our emotions and that you are there for them. God wants to show you how to connect with your emotional tween and win their heart for life! So, Mom, it’s your turn, which of these steps are you going to focus on this week? Let us know in the comments below!
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Beth Ellen Nash is the author of Dyslexia Outside-the-Box which provides a balanced perspective showing how a dyslexic child’s challenges are directly connected to the flip-side strengths of their brain’s unique wiring. This book brings together evidenced-based information about dyslexia and organizes it in an easy-to-understand format for anyone who knows and wants to support someone with dyslexia. It breaks down the many aspects of dyslexia and offers solutions that have the “whole person” in mind, showing how these children whose brains are delightfully wired differently can thrive, not just survive.