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4 Things Preteens Need Most from Their Mom

This stage combined with rebellion is not easy. Lean into your support system to help you stay emotionally balanced and to maintain perspective as you guide your preteen into the teen years.

The preteen years are critical years in a child’s life. In this age range, you still have a tremendous amount of influence on your children’s perceptions and life. Yet there’s a stark reality. As parents, you are increasingly competing with other influences and messages in a child’s mind.

Even though there are lots of incredible things happening emotionally, mentally, physically, and relationally there are also lots of misinterpretations and insecurities that can derail your child’s confidence and growth and can mislead them spiritually.

Both my son and my daughter had their own journeys through the preteen years. And my son developed a closer connection with my wife through their goofy moments together. My daughter, on the other hand, did not feel fully understood by her mom, but loved when she experienced warmth and sensitivity from her. Each child is different, but the influence and love from a mom are essential.

As a mom, however, you can have an incredibly profound and long-lasting impact in the life of your preteens. You are a foundational builder in your child’s worldview and their emotional, mental, and relational worlds. But it will take an investment of time and energy. Preteens are going through some physical, mental, emotional, and relational changes that can make life challenging and confusing.

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What Can Moms Give Their Preteens?

God has given you an incredible invitation to be mom (with the good and the difficult of the invitation). Here are four very helpful gifts you can give your preteens to help them continue to develop and grow mentally, relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As you read, consider how you challenge, encourage, and support your preteen in meaningful and intentional ways.

“strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”

Proverbs 31:25

1. Playfulness, Humor, and Affection

Firstly, give your playfulness, humor, and loving smile. Preteens are more prone to stress than they have been in any of their previous developmental stages. They need laughter and playfulness to even out the stresses, insecurities, and worries they are increasingly wrestling with.

As a mom, unlock the power of your playfulness. It will bring life, memories, and peacefulness to your home and your preteen’s world. Anxiety, depression, and loneliness have all increased in the past couple of decades and children can benefit from your playful and contagious smile. Playfulness opens the imagination and attachment.  

2. Structure and Order

Secondly, you can give structure and order. Children, even though they may get upset or complain, do best with having consistent and loving organization and rules. Structure can be calming to a chaotic preteen brain.

Throughout my years coming alongside of moms in a counseling setting, there have been countless moments of guilt and shame around the issue of structure and order in their homes. Moms frequently feel stressed and overwhelmed. They are frustrated with the never-ending invisible list that creates a sense of feeling behind every day. Take some time to breathe and put things in perspective. You don’t need to compare or strive for perfection. This is about bring life into your home and can be done through the structure and order you can provide for your family.

Moms tend to be very helpful in building academic and lifeskill habits that teens will thank them for in future years. However, structure and order tend to be imperfect and challenging. Be steadfast in modeling and teaching these essential life skills to your preteens as often as possible. Moms can help kids be successful by giving them the gift of responsibilities and helping her children learn to serve others through work. This is about training and teaching, not perfection.

You get to help your kids be successful by giving them the gift of responsibilities and a servant’s attitude and heart. Structure and order lessen stress, confusion, and frustration. Reveal the beauty of structure and order in God’s creation and the peacefulness that can be infused through order and structure.       

3. Wisdom and Guidance

Next, you can provide wisdom and guidance. Moms can be incredibly transformational in this area. Truly, preteens need their mother’s intuitive guidance as they prepare to navigate the confusing and difficult days ahead. In fact, the preteen years can bring an onslaught of temptations and distractions to both boys and girls.

Proverbs 6:20-23 says, “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when yo like down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”

Your teaching is essential. You get the invitation to lead your preteens through essential conversations and by providing life-giving correction and guidance along the way. Keep in perspective that your kids fail and will disappoint others. Lead them toward seeing beyond performance and beyond behaviors to see life through a lens of wisdom.

4. Warmth and Sensitivity

Finally, you can freely give your warmth, nurture, and sensitivity. Preteens struggle with endless insecurities and a sudden surge of negative thoughts. Warmth from a mom can help ease the impact of these thoughts and emotions and can provide security and fuel for self-confidence. In fact, researchers have found that a mother’s gentle and supportive guidance leads to the higher likelihood of these benefits in her children:

  • Improved academic performance in her children.
  • Increased self-control
  • Secure attachment
  • Healthier social and emotional development
  • Improvements in memory and learning
  • Improved capacity to handle stress
  • Less behavior issues

Moms can provide affection and a listening ear as preteens sift through battles in their minds and through difficult moments of failure and rejection. By making yourself available, you get to provide safety for openness and growth in your home. It also provides an environment for your children to safely ask difficult questions as they wrestle through questions of life, faith, and relationships.  

Final Thoughts on Preteens and Their Moms

This is just a quick snapshot of 4 ways you can have an incredible impact on your preteen’s life. Preteens are full of ideas and are hungry for approval, humor, novelty, and fun. And they can’t wait for the freedoms that come with the teen years.

But are they ready?

Make sure to invest the time to create connection and safety as you guide your children toward wisdom, healthy relationships, and a thriving faith in Christ.

This stage combined with rebellion is not easy. Do not be afraid or ashamed to lean into your support system to help you stay emotionally balanced and to maintain perspective as you guide your preteen into the teen years.

You will be imperfect and that’s where love gets to be practiced and grown.

Today, remember these words from Isaiah:

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4). May these words speak to your heart as you guide your child through the preteen years. 

For more practical parenting tips, visit www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting or call 1-800-A-FAMILY for a free consultation with one of our professional counselors.

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