Everyone talks about the Terrible Twos and we always hear warnings of the teenage years, but it seems everyone has forgotten to warn new parents of the puberty years. The emotional rollar coaster can start around nine, or even younger! Just when you thought you were able to coast for some time and just sit back and enjoy your child’s independence, here comes the crying fits over not making enough cookies.
There are arguments on both sides on whether homeschooling makes the puberty years harder or easier. I can’t say I have a strong opinion either way. Still, when you are homeschooling you must push through the tough times to continue with your child’s education. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful in our journey thus far.
1. Lower Your Expectations
I’m serious – I put this first because I think it is most important. Your early school age child was a sponge and could absorb knowledge with ease. This changes when puberty hits. It’s easy to understand when we think of how our brain has a limited number of connections and energy to work with on any given day. Now, without any warning, much of that energy is now being used to grow and change your child into an adult. That’s a big deal. Care Bear used to be able to memorize a surah (chapter of Qur’an) in one to five days. Our suwar (surahs) now take upwards of two to three weeks. True, we are working on longer suwar, but the average number of ayat (verses) she can memorize in one day has dropped in half. At this age they are able to make more complex conclusions, but still remember when you notice the deeper voice and rushing emotions move in, the airhead is not far behind.
2. Allow Time for Unplanned Days Off
Sometimes your growing child needs some extra attention in academics, or just to have fun with their family. Part of the beauty of homeschooling is you have this flexibility. Of course we can’t go crazy with taking days off if you want or need to get a certain amount done in the year, but don’t plan each and every day off you have available. I plan very few days off and then if something comes up on Groupon, or we just have an emotional day, we can take days off without me worrying about falling behind.
3. Remember When You Were This Age
I think I’m a fairly responsible adult, but I know my parents worried whether I would amount to anything for quite some time. The minimalist style (ehem, leaving half a square of TP on the roll so you don’t have to change it) seems to come with the age and is one of the most worrisome things when looking at how your child will shape up into an adult. The question of, “Will they get fired for not performing to standard?” is easy to pop up when they’ve been skimping out on their History timeline for a month. While I can’t promise they’ll for sure grow out of it, we should all take note that most or all of us did – eventually.
4. Be Consistent
At this age and especially in the teen years, your child/teen/blossoming adult is becoming quite skilled at being able to see the difference between what is said and what actually happens. Make sure the prayers stay in line, and lead by example. Keep your routines, even though you have some flexibility now. Are empty threats part of your repertoire? Stop. Immediately. Do you sometimes ground your kids for not following the rules and other times let it go? Unless there’s an incredibly awesome reason, that has to go also. I’ll admit I’m the Queen of Inconsistency in many areas, but when it comes to my kids, if I say they have to do something, that’s the law.
5. Show Understanding
Remind your child that you also went through this same experience. Sharing funny stories is a great way to bond at this age. I do not suggest telling stories of gross disobedience and youth experimentation. Any stories you feel would be a good life lesson can be told as “someone I knew” and keep it general. Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you! During the teen years, they will be searching for perfection from all areas, and they don’t need to know of long past indiscretions. Still, we can show understanding and patience through past experiences – whether that’s our own experiences or “someone we knew”.
Of course this is not all your options, but just a start. What have you tried and what works for your family?
This isn’t the typical run-of-the-mill predictable content Parent’s magazine article. I really appreciate your thoughtful sharing of wisdom; I can really benefit from this.
Something I’ve found that works when I don’t know how to handle something, or don’t know what to do over an emotional, academic, or life issue, is to surprisingly just tell my child so. I realized at this age it’s not about them thinking I have all the answers so that they can feel secure with me as their parent. It’s about them learning to get their own successful answers so they can be secure with themselves. It’s about the in between. So I can confidently tell my child, “you know what, I don’t know. This situation is tough for me, too. But I’m your mom and I’m fully vested in you and we’re going to figure this out. It’s my job to make sure we find and utilize the best answer” and then we do.
I’ve also found we both need our alone time from each other and respect of that, too.
Yes, wonderful advice! Letting them help find the answers helps them grow into being fully responsible for their decisions and choices. Thank you!