When we come home from just about anywhere, my son immediately races to his room before I even know he’s hopped out of the car. He’s looking for quiet. He’s searching for a respite, from tween intensity and the intensity of life. He is highly sensitive – and he requires solitude to recharge. My other son immediately asks if I will play a game with him. He, too, is looking for a restoration of his spirit, but he recharges by connecting with people.
Both are looking for a relief from the intensity “out there.” Our home is a safe place where we discourage all of the tween intensity that we find “out there.” We want to leave that outside. And it’s not always possible – but there are ways to check some of it at the door!
What’s with all the intensity these days? Everything feels more intense than it needs to. As a society, we seem to be craving this intensity. But not me! Surviving the tween years without added intensity is tough enough…
Tween Behavior Is Impacted By Intensity
I often wonder why, as parents, we’re surprised when our children behave in rude, disrespectful, or other ways we don’t want. Our children are bombarded with intensity all day long, from the intensity of their schedules, to the intensity of what they see, read and hear.
Then we expect them not to be grumpy, quiet, or brooding; to attend calmly to the tasks of the moment; and to exercise the utmost in impulse control. Honestly, it’s more than we could ever expect of ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that their hormones aren’t going bananas or that there aren’t other thing happening that we have no control over. I’m not even saying that tweens won’t be tweens.
What I am saying is that there are ways we can help. There are ways that we can make daily deposits into their resilience bank account that will lessen our tweens’ intensity.
Let’s Not Normalize This Intensity in Our Homes
So why are we pushing this intensity? What I worry about is this intensity becoming our normal, And our children not understanding all of the sensory information that they are receiving is not normal – it’s overload. I fear that our children will become bored with the beauty and the awe that is available in the world if all they experience is this super-intensified state of being.
Children could potentially grow up feeling “comfortable” in the super-fast pace of screen media stimulation and uncomfortable in the normal pace of everyday life.
Performance might be high in gaming and internet information processing, but what about performance in low-tech activities such as building relationships? Parenting? Achieving greatness at anything, from sports to music to business?
These true, satisfying achievements happen only at the pace of the natural world, not at the artificially accelerated pace of the screened world. They require focus, dedication, persistence and patience – even when the going seems slow, frustrating and boring in the moment.(cite)
I worry that our children will never be able to appreciate what is real instead of what is virtual.
Our Family’s Approach to Tween Intensity
Intensity from over-scheduling is one of the most difficult things to handle and it is everywhere! As good parents, we are now expected to heavily schedule our children. We glorify busy; parents brag about the activities their children are enrolled in, and emerge as martyrs for all of the rushing around that we have to do.
Spoiler Alert: If you want to do things differently in your home, you will definitely be swimming upstream.
I want my children to be children for as long as possible and I don’t want them to be stressed out about racing from one event to the next. I want them to develop a good character more than I want them to develop a good golf swing.
The statistics are sobering:
Adolescents today have a reputation for being more fragile, less resilient and more overwhelmed than their parents were when they were growing up. Sometimes they’re called spoiled or coddled or helicoptered. But a closer look paints a far more heartbreaking portrait of why young people are suffering. Anxiety and depression in high school kids have been on the rise since 2012 after several years of stability. It’s a phenomenon that cuts across all demographics–suburban, urban and rural; those who are college bound and those who aren’t.
In 2015, about 3 million teens ages 12 to 17 had had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. More than 2 million report experiencing depression that impairs their daily function. About 30% of girls and 20% of boys–totaling 6.3 million teens–have had an anxiety disorder, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health. (cite)
Our solution in our home is to only schedule things that we love, that make our spirits soar and that add greatly to the quality of our lives. In short, if it isn’t a “HELL YES,” it’s a “Thank-you, but no.” So what do we do instead?
We stay after school on the playground. There are always kids on the playground after school, and my boys love to join in on free play. This gives them a wonderful opportunity to play with their friends, do what they want, and to excise the stress of the day. They are emotionally in a calmer and happier place when they come home.
I prioritize cooking a healthy meal. We eat together – admittedly, sometimes in front of the television. But that’s just our thing sometimes. I remember being exhausted when I got home from work and wanting nothing more than to flop down in front of the tv with my dinner some nights. Our children are no different.
I also work really hard to get everyone to bed on time for a good night’s sleep. This will continue to be a challenge as they grow up and their internal clocks shift them to nocturnal creatures, but I work at it.
All of these things deposit a certain amount of resilience into a “bank account,” if you will, that tweens and children of all ages, can withdraw from as needed the next day. And if you can help to make sufficient deposits into their resilience bank account, the joys of watching your young teen grow before your eyes are breathtaking.
One Final Tool To Help Tween Intensity
This is a frustrating time for parents – we feel like tweens don’t listen to us; they can be grumpy; and we have no idea why they do some things that, frankly, just seem strange.
But let’s put ourselves in their shoes for a minute. It’s a frustrating and frightening time for them too.
Tweens and young teens feel intense pressure about a lot of things. They worry about whether they are doing or even wearing the right thing; whether new experiences will be embarrassing; and all sorts of other things that many times, as adults, we can’t even fathom. And they feel this intense pressure constantly.
What if there were a tool that could transform the way you think about your tween’s intense behaviors? A tool that could help you connect with your tween on a whole new level? Or a tool that could help your tween discover the confidence to be the capable problem-solving kid that we want them to be? Or even a tool that could help you, your child, his caretakers and teachers see him or her in a brand new light??? The light that you see him in – the kid you know is there!
There is a movement afoot and The Midlife Mamas is proud share this movement with you and have as many people learn about it as possible. Read The Superkids Manifesto below and I think you’ll see why this movement has touched my heart and why I feel that it’s so important for all of us to spread our belief in our kids far and wide.
There is not one kid on the planet who does not want to believe these things about him or her self. Not. One. And it can be especially challenging for tweens.
What if your child learned to advocate for himself and show his teacher that he was “FIERCE” and not “strong-willed” or “difficult?” What if his teacher learned to think of him as “UNIQUE” instead of “anxious?”
Wouldn’t that be a blessing?
I’ve found such a tool in The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day. This book helps tweens understand what their bodies are telling them and provides them with the right words so they can tell their parents exactly what they are feeling and why they are feeling it.
So for example, if your tween struggles with focus, worry, or organization – The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day will explain to them, in terms they can understand, why they are struggling. It also offers activities to help them improve!
And now through August 15, when you pre-order your book you will receive an amazing package of super bonuses worth over $50!!
Redeem Your Amazing Bonus Pack Before August 15, 2017:
You can pre-order your copy of The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day from whichever online seller you want to buy from. Then all you have to do is forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then just sit back and relax – you’ll receive your book on its release date – August 15 – and you’ll receive your bonus pack within 24-48 of sending in your purchase receipt.
Since this has touched my heart so deeply, PLEASE SHARE this post so that the Superkids Movement can be felt ’round the world!