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Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen

The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School

By Michelle Icard
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen by Michelle Icard

Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen (2020) tackles the thorny subject of communicating with tweens – those adolescents between the ages of ten and fourteen who are beginning to pull away from their parents and close down lines of communication. This is the age at which “big” topics like sexuality, money, and life choices are more important than ever. But it’s also the age at which having a conversation with your child is harder than ever before. So what can parents do? Well, it’s time to learn a new way of talking with, and not at, your tween. 

Key idea 1 of 8

Learning a new lingo will help you talk to your tween.

Children and parents share a special language. 

For many people, the cries of infants are little more than noise. Parents, though, can detect the subtle differences that signal that their child needs to be fed, or have its diaper changed. This relationship lasts from birth until the age of around eleven, when something changes. 

As kids set out on the journey toward adulthood, they pull away from their parents and begin building their own identities. Suddenly, parents and children have less in common, and the old language breaks down. Which means that, as a parent, you need to find a different way of communicating. 

The key message in this blink is: Learning a new lingo will help you talk to your tween. 

Shared languages bind people together. Tweens, though, don’t want to be bound into the family group – they want to explore the world for themselves. No wonder, then, that communication becomes difficult at this age. 

This becomes frustrating for parents, as surly silences start to replace conversations. Often, parents are tempted to turn the volume up and talk at, rather than with, their kids. But that only leads to a stormy cycle of angry lectures and teary tantrums. 

So what’s the alternative? Well, it’s important to remember that your tween’s desire for autonomy is a healthy and normal part of growing up. Plenty of evidence suggests that kids who don’t establish a strong sense of self in adolescence are much more likely to end up in toxic or codependent relationships later on in life. Put differently, you want your tween to become more independent!

Keeping that in mind will help you avoid a common mistake, the “shut it down” approach, which is all about keeping kids out of trouble. This strategy comes from a place of love, but it also denies your tween something important – the chance to make mistakes. Yes, greater independence means your kids are going to encounter new risks and occasionally screw up. But how can they learn to make smart decisions if you don’t let them make any decisions? 

The simple fact is, kids need to have experiences – good and bad. There’s just no getting around that. But that doesn’t mean you have to watch helplessly from the sidelines. Your job is to help your child evaluate, process, and reflect on what works and what doesn’t. That can only happen once you learn how to talk to your tween. 

Quote: “Keeping kids safe is all about having the right conversations at the right time.”

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