Your Preteen Will Routinely Break Your Heart

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A preteen child will break your heart. It won’t happen once. It will happen again and again. They can’t seem to help it.

I still remember what it felt like to be 12 years old. Without warning, I was thrust into a world where my parents didn’t see me as a little girl, nor was I an adult.

To me, I was an awkward fish who lived in an aquarium surrounded by people tapping on the glass to get my attention. I was paddling as fast as I could, always trying to keep my head above the water of adolescent confusion. More often than not, I couldn’t.

I broke my Mother’s heart often routinely.

Your preteen will break your heart

The Preteens in Your House Will Do the Same

I was with my friend the other day and she had her 12-year-old daughter with her. We were expecting to have a nice lunch and maybe some shopping afterward.

While my friend was telling me the story of how she fell down getting out of her SUV, her daughter was doing nothing to hide the eye-rolling. It was so dramatic that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them actually roll back in her head and get stuck.

Finally, when the story moved on to the point where my friend was about to show me her injured elbow, her daughter had enough. She spoke to her through gritted teeth. I was certain that if we weren’t in a public place, she would have yelled.

“Stop it, Mom! Seriously! What are you even doing right now?”

She broke her Mother’s heart.

Parents need to understand how a preteen’s brain works.

When a child is around 12, a big change starts to take place in the prefrontal cortex. Think of it as a sort of rewiring of the most complex machine on the planet – the brain.

Because of this biological change, your preteen has trouble trying to stop and think before acting.

It’s not their fault. It’s how human brains function. This bit of knowledge is incredibly empowering for parents of preteens. Write these words down someplace you’ll see them every day: Remember, it’s their prefrontal cortex!

What parents can do about their preteens’ behavior.

Keep calm and hold your tongue. Be mindful. If you’re an emotional, angry mess, the only thing you are teaching them is to handle problems the same way.

Remember, it’s their prefrontal cortex!

Don’t take the bait. They are going to roll their eyes, groan, and try to start an argument to wear you down. Don’t fall for it. Let them fuss and grunt and you do your best to ignore them until they’ve finished.

Remember, it’s their prefrontal cortex!

Have a quiet discussion when it’s the right time. Don’t try reasoning when your preteen is in the midst of a meltdown, or when YOU are in a meltdown.

Once you happen upon a moment that seems like a good opening, be open and candid with your child. Simply tell them that you understand this might be a difficult time, as it has always been for preteens. They aren’t bad.

Remember, it’s their prefrontal cortex!

Listen to them. Without judgment, listen to their problems. Most of them you may find ridiculous, honestly. It’s easy to wonder how they see so many things in life as the absolute end of the world.

Don’t try to fix things. Listen and wait for them to ask for your advice. They may not want it, but even if they don’t, being there with them is what they need most.

Remember, it’s their prefrontal cortex!

Remember how you felt when you were their age. You probably wanted to be away from your parents at all costs. Maybe you hid out in your room with books or music. It’s likely that on more than one occasion, you made your parents so angry that sometimes they’d leave you at home on purpose. (Score!)

You loved your parents, you love them now. They got through the struggle that was you as an adolescent and all is forgiven, right?

The same will happen with your kiddo. They love you, even if they can’t remember why. Dry your tears, momma. This too shall pass.

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1 thought on “Your Preteen Will Routinely Break Your Heart”

  1. Thank you for writing this, posting this, and sharing it on Facebook. I’m struggling with my feelings towards my little one and I don’t like the way I feel because I know it’s apart of the growth process but it’s no fun. So, thank you for reassuring me as a parent that it is just that: the process.