1) “You just don’t understand me”
When you’re tween feels misunderstood don’t get defensive and try to prove your tween wrong with, “Yes, I do understand you! I was a kid once.” Disarm your tween by saying, “You’re right. I don’t think I fully understand what it’s like to be you right now. Will you help me? Tell me more…”
2) “My room IS clean”
Avoid getting into a power struggle about whether your tweens room is messy or not. As a parent, one trick that worked for me is to require my tweens to have their messy bedroom picked once a week, every Saturday. The once a week rule helped me stay out of the nagging mom role, and preventing the messes from becoming too out of control.
3) “My teachers didn’t give any homework”
Find out what motivates your child and use that as a reward, instead of nagging incessantly. Set a specific rule and a clear benefit for your child if he or she get homework done. For example, if you tween love playing the Wii or playing Webkinz on the computer, use that as an incentive for homework. “When you’ve finished your homework, I’d be happy to unlock the computer for you.”
4) “You can’t MAKE me”
Part of parenting a back-talking tween is to start well before they are tweens training them how to speak to you. Back talking is often your tweens attempt at expressing anger, disappointment, fear, or sadness that they aren’t getting what they want. Start early and train your children how to identify and express difficult emotions appropriately. When they’re 3 and say “I hate you mom!” instead of scolding them with something like “Don’t you ever say that to me. After all I do for you!” Instead try saying, “Wow. You’re really, really mad at me. I said that you can’t buy a candy at the store and you really want one.” Coach your child on appropriate ways to express painful feelings and give them the words to express their emotion. “I don’t like when you say you hate me. You can say ‘I’m really mad at you Mom. I want that candy and I don’t like it when you say no.'”
5) “But everyone’s wearing it”
Don’t be afraid to set expectations of what is appropriate for your family values. Set the rules and give a brief information about why you think grooming and dressing age appropriately it is important. When my daughter was a tween we had discussions around this theme. It’s what’s inside of a person is what matters most, but whether you like it or not, how you care for yourselves and what we wear sends a message about who you are. It doesn’t define you, but it’s important to think about what your physical appearance says about you.
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