Guest columnist Erika Katz has 10 tips on how bond with your tween and become an essential part of your child's formative years.
Tip #5: Plant a Garden
Nothing is more rewarding than growing your own food. And it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems. So if you have outdoor space in your home, you can plant fresh herbs such as mint, rosemary, cilantro, and thyme with your tweens. Also, wild strawberries are easy and perennial. Digging the soil, watering the plants, and caring for the garden is a great learning experience for your kids as well as a fun activity the whole family can enjoy.
Tip #6: Talk, Talk, Talk
These days, everyone is texting and tweeting, and no one is communicating. Choose an activity you can do together before bed. My daughter and I cleanse our faces together, and I enjoy those few minutes as a time when she tells me about school, her friends, and whatever else is on her mind. If a child feels you are present and not distracted, it will help him or her feel secure going forward. After all, if your own mother doesn’t want to hear about your life, who will?
Tip #7: Embrace Your Tween’s Friends
To a tween, having friends is everything. Make your home a place where your kids' friends want to come. Encourage your kids to organize sleepovers and plan lots of fun activities for them. You will get to know their friends, and it will allow you to bond with your kids. They will appreciate your help in creating friendships, and you will feel good knowing the kids are safe because they are in your home.
Tip #8: Give Each Child One-on-One Time
Having special one-on-one time with each parent—without the other siblings present — will make your child feel special and give them the forum to talk about things they may not want to discuss with the other parent. This will foster better self esteem and a stronger bond with you.
Tip #9: Enjoy Your Time With Your Children
So much of our time is spent policing our children, that we often forget to appreciate them. Tell your kids how lucky you are to have them and how special they are to you. Children need to feel appreciated, just like adults.
Tip #10: Validate Their Feelings
When your child tells you he or she is upset, say, “I can see this is really upsetting you. You must feel awful.” If her or she accomplishes something great, say, “You must feel really great about your accomplishments. You should!” Little phrases like these can make a child feel heard and understood. Instilling empathy and understanding in your kids, builds trust in you as a parent.
I hope you enjoy this special time in your children’s life. Try to build a new bond every day by just giving each child 15 minutes of uninterrupted attention and focus. It will make all the difference in the world.
Erika Katz is the author of Bonding Over Beauty. She has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Shape.com, About.com, Girl’s Life, as well as on the Today Show, Fox News Live, The Doctors, and PIX 11 Morning News. Connect with Erika on Facebook and Twitter.