• Aileen Pound

5 tips on helping your 7 yr old transition gently into a tween xx

In a few days, Little Miss M turns 8. Now I hear you saying how different can going from 7 to 8 be, and I'm going to tell you now there's a big difference. It creeps up slowly; over six months, I noticed little differences in LMM. Such as getting rid of her babies and their accessories, sitting on face time with her friend from school, doing makeup, and asking questions about everything.

Not to mention the flood of hormones, making her moods range from Maria in the Sound of Music to Cruella De Ville in 101 Dalmatian’s. Hormones, coupled with an unexpected case of situational anxiety (I will do another post on this later), and the road from seven to eight has been rocky. How then, you may ask, have we handled the transition relatively unscathed?

Below, I will give you the five tips that have worked for me and LMM. Now, I'm not a doctor or a specialist, just a mum that has done a lot of reading and asked many questions; then applied what I've learnt in a way that works for our family.

I guess if I were going to give a pre-tip, it would be to use what you learn and apply it in a way that works for your family. What works for one child or family may not work for another. We are all unique and need to find ways to communicate with our children, so they are receptive to what we are trying to say or do. So now that I have given you a random pre-tip, here are my five tips on helping your seven-year-old transition into a tween.

• Don't be afraid to get advice from your doctor on people you can talk to or resources you can use. We have been going to the same doctors since LMM was born. When LMM didn't want to go to school and was getting frustrated and angry (which is very out of character), I took her to our GP. From there, we got the name of a child specialist. While I was there, I asked as many questions as I could so that I could utilise the tools she was giving LMM at home.

Because of this, we started the wellness corner and our worry jar. Our wellness corner is beautiful and serene. It has two baskets, one with colouring books and reading books, one with fidgets and a sloth that can be warmed up. There is also a blanket, candles, crystals and plants. We made the wellness corner available to everyone, so when you feel, overwhelmed, sad, angry, or need five minutes, you can go to the wellness corner. This has worked so well, especially when LMM is frustrated or angry, as it gives everyone a chance to re-group and come together when their emotions are under control.

The worry jar has also worked well. I let LMM decorate the jar and there is a pen and paper kept by it, and when LMM is worried about anything, she writes it in her jar, and then we sit down and talk about it. This is great as it gives me a chance to read it and then decide how I am going to handle it.

• Be honest and open when your child asks you a question, even if it is a tough question your not wanting to answer. The way I look at it is that she can learn the truth from me, or she will go out and try and find the answer herself. I would much rather LMM gets the answers from me. You can still answer the questions your child asks in an age- appropriate way, but the biggest thing is to answer them and keep the line of communication open. You want to achieve an open and honest dialogue between you and your child, so they know they can go to you for the truth as they get older and the questions get more challenging.

• Let your child know that everything that they are experiencing is normal. I always find it curious that as adults, we get frustrated, angry, and sad (or hormonal), and it's accepted, yet we tell our children off when they do or tell them to 'stop it.' The reality is as adults, we have the tools to deal with our emotions, but our children haven't yet - that's our job to help and guide them. First, to give them the tools to recognises their feelings and then put them in place to keep them under control.

• Spend time helping your child with mindfulness. Mindfulness is the art of being, taking in your surroundings and being in the moment. Mindfulness is essential to increase focus, attention, self-control and compassion, as well as decrease stress levels, helping with depression and anxiety and overall well-being. Different types of mindfulness exercises are: mindful meditation, mindful breathing, yoga or mindful walking, to name a few. For yoga, I love Cosmic Kids on youtube, and for mindful breathing and meditation, I use the headspace app or smiling mind app.

Spending time with your child connecting this way can be so crucial to the way you both connect as your child gets older. When you practice mindfulness together, you can learn to deal with each other's emotions. As you spend time together, you will find you both open up about different things because there is no pressure to talk or be serious; the conversation will naturally flow in its own time.

• Lastly, don't be upset or take it personally if they don't want to talk to you, especially after school. LMM isn't a big talker when she gets into the car. I had to remember the days when I was in retail, and the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was talk to anyone. So now I ask LMM how her day was and if she isn't forthcoming with the details of the day, I tell her OK, no dramas, I'm here to talk to you when you're ready. After arriving home, she will start telling me all the gossip from year 2!

Children are growing up so much faster than when I was a child. I was still playing barbies at 13 (OK, I played bitch barbies when I was 13, but barbies none the less.) The youth of today have access to so much information, and so many things are changing so rapidly it makes my head spin sometimes. We can, however, navigate the road to teenhood without too much carnage or rising blood pressure. After all, if we all stop for a moment and remember we were this age once and how we felt, perhaps we can navigate the waters a little more smoothly. xx

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