they’re a natural part of growing up as kids look for ways to be independent and their hormones rage. It’s difficult—but important—for parents to react helpfully. Here are some ways to handle common preteen complaints:
• “Leave me alone!” Children often say this when they need time to think. Give your child some time by herself. Then ask if she’d like to talk. No matter what, let her know you’re there for her.
• “I’m not you!” Preteens say this because they’re figuring out who they are and how they’re different from parents. Allowing your child to make some reasonable choices can minimize conflicts.
• “But Julie’s allowed to!” It’s important to children to fit in with peers. But it’s more important for parents to enforce good rules. Acknowledge your child’s wishes, but explain the reason for your rules.
• “You don’t understand!” Many children feel parents don’t “get” kids’ problems. Let your child know that you want to try. Ask casual, sympathetic questions that encourage her to talk.
• “I hate you!” It hurts to hear children say this, but what they usually mean is “I don’t know how to deal with you now.” The best response is a loving one: “I’m sorry you feel that way. But I’ll always love you.”
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