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How was school today?

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Friday, 31 October 2014
If you have a teen who doesn’t talk, you know this question or starting any conversation about their thoughts and emotions can be more challenging than expecting (take your pick), a clean bedroom, a reasonable bedtime, or ignoring their ringing mobile phone.

The chatty munchkin who only yesterday couldn’t wait to tell you all about, well, EVERYTHING, almost overnight has become mute or barely able to offer, “fine”, “good”, same as yesterday”. So you give them a little time, and hope the poppet you know and love just needs a little space.

Hormones have much to answer for, but more than likely, you will have to become more creative about reconnecting. The simple questions you once asked to help you understand and check-in with their development and state of mind may no longer be effective. You may also need a more subtle approach if your teen suddenly has also become secretive or defensive.

Try a little humour. You will probably look uncool, weird, and just plain old, but if you get more than a monosyllabic response, you have leapt a great divide.

So here are a few openers:-
  • Did your teacher stand on her head or sing the whole lesson today?
  • Would you like pig’s feet or chicken’s feet for lunch?
  • By the way, I have organised Harry Potter to help you with your homework this week.
  • If aliens landed in your school tomorrow, which teacher would you buy a one way ticket back to their planet?

As a nanny and a parent your skills as a therapist, tutor, chef, and the many other hats you wear require regular modification when you have a teenager. What you do one day with success does not mean it will also work next week. It’s not always easy but it can be fun. Well, sometimes.

Terrible tweens

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Thursday, 25 September 2014
The “terrible twos” feel like a walk in the park when the sweet, happy moppet you love has transformed back into the tantrum-throwing vixen.

Tween girls, and boys for that matter, can be moody, overdramatic, self-centred, focused almost solely on friends, close-mouthed, surly, back-talking and condescending to parents, nannies, teachers, siblings and really, EVERYONE.  They can, of course, also be mature, affectionate and delightful, but at their worst they’re a cross between the most challenging aspects of toddlers and teens.

You can blame the hormones but heed a few behavioural adjustments, yours and theirs, even though it may seem unfair that you have to do most of the work in your relationship. Your tweens may look like young men and women, but they’ve got a lot of growing up to do emotionally. It’s your job and privilege to help them.

- Your relationship will take priority over discipline as you will not get respect if your tween doesn’t feel connected to you.

- Schedule regular “dates” for discussion or simply going to a movie or a meal. Sometimes NOT talking helps too.

- Find appropriate ways to give independence so they won’t have to rebel.

- Adolescence is a transition phase so empathise and appreciate the anxieties important to your tween.

- Sleep and rest are still important even if more challenging. Maintain house rules for sleep times and limited computer/phone use (role modelling is effective and necessary).

- Fresh air, any physical activity, helps clear tense situations, distract a tween or from intense emotions (again, join in, lead the way, or cheer on at the sidelines).

- “You don’t understand” is what a tween feels and screams out when confused or hurt. Don’t take all their outbursts to heart and stay calm through the tantrums.

- Always insist on civility so muster your own and don’t overreact in the middle of hysterics.

- Keep up the cuddles and the kisses and the closeness even if they may start to squirm. You won’t get this opportunity back to show them your love even if/when they question it.

And just when you think you may have mastered the tween phase, it’s a mere couple of years preparing you for the next seven of teens. BREATHE, SMILE, and breathe some more.

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