6 ways to connect with your tween/teen daughter

When you get to know that you are expecting, motherhood hits you instantly. No matter it’s a boy or a girl, you automatically connect with your child. But when you know you are having a daughter, you know that’s something which you can’t have with your son. You always know that that time will come when your daughter think and feel differently. She will come to that age when you will be her biggest support BUT you can never expect when it will happen.

The baby girl you were holding in your arms. The baby girl, who was playing with dolls just a few day ago, started to feel differently. All of a sudden she becomes quiet and starts to behave like adults. Then you know that your baby girl is not a baby anymore. She is a big girl now. And now you are the only person, who can understand her and make her feel comfortable and safe.

My daughter turned 10 this year in January and everything was going normal. Suddenly she started to act strangely. She started to behave and talk like big girls. She started to get irritated by small things and now she likes to spend time in her room rather then going out with us.

I knew this would happen but, I was not expecting this so soon. Then I realized that she has started her tween phase. And this is all very normal. Then I started to google about it how can I make her feel comforted. So these are following thing am doing right now.

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1.Doing something together

Try to engage her in your activities or do something together what she likes. Like you can bake her favorite cookies together or when you are cooking ask her to help you with the ingredients. Or may be you can go for cycling/ swimming together (whatever she likes).

One day my daughter suddenly started to wash dishes. Without telling me. I told her its okay if she likes to do the dishes she can wash her plate only. She doesn’t need to do all the dishes. She was happy. Now  she helps me the laundry regularly. I tell her every time what cycle to select and how much detergent to use.

Doing this make them confident and responsible and they feel like contributing in the house like adults.

2.Talk to them

As a mother you can always sense that something is bothering your child. Something is not right. You can sense their tone. You can even say it by looking at their face. Just talk to them. Ask them what’s bothering them.

My daughter started her 6th grade this year. And this year the school management shuffled their sections and now her best friends is in another section. Since the beginning of this academic year she is acting as she is not happy. One day she was very quiet so I asked her “what’s wrong?”. Then she told me that she is sad because her friend is in another section now so she will make new friends and that she will forget my daughter. We talked for an hour and I tried to explain it to her that it’s the part of life, you can always make new friends and you can stay connected to your old friends as well. After the talk, she was fine.

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3.Plan a family day/ activity

My daughter always asks me to do something fun. And by fun she means doing anything but with the whole family. Whether its going on a picnic or swimming. Or just a family movie day with pizza. My daughter loves this. She calls it “pizza party”.

4.Ask for her opinion

Take their suggestions when ever you can. If you are buying clothes ask them what they like. Even if you are buying for your self  ask them if they like the color. They always give the honest opinion. Or if you are planning a dinner party, ask her if she can help you make the menu.

5.Don’t take their behavior personally

At this age, she is going through a lot of emotional and physical changes. She is confused and she is trying to figure herself out. The emotions that she is feeling for the first time. She gets irritated on small things or talks to you disrespectfully. Don’t take her wrong. Try to handle her calmly. Talk to her if you can or just give her some space to cool down. She doesn’t hate you. She is trying to understand her emotions.

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6.Stay strong

Keep your calm and give her space BUT also keep an eye on her. This is when she needs to be observed. Stay strong on rules and try to explain it to her. Tell her the things she is allowed and things she is not allowed to do. The best way to do is to answer her every question like adults. At this stage giving commands will only make things worse. Gain her trust and explain everything to her that if she is forbidden then why is that so. Give her logical explanations.

Its not easy. Its really tough. But this is the time when we can have that connection with our daughters which can help them in the development of their personality. this is the time when she wants someone to understand her and listen to her and feel her. And when you do this, she will feel special and loved. She will feels comforted. Otherwise she will look for someone outside of her family who can give her all these things.

Encouraging children to maintain a healthy lifestyle

by Zara Razzaq

Being a teacher has made me realize one thing. I’m not just a teacher. I am a mentor, a friend to the little ones, a nurturer and almost a mother to roughly 40 kids. Why do I say this?! Because I am responsible for their mental and physical well-being for those 8 hours of school every single day.  

It’s been 4 years to my teaching experience. I am an elementary teacher and it has been nothing but a roller coaster ride. It’s exhausting, it drains me out to the core, there is so much work that sometimes I feel I’m unable to manage my time. But there is one reason why I chose this profession; because it makes me happy. It makes me feel rewarded. When those curious minds ask the most interesting questions, it makes me realize that these children have so much going on in their minds, and we need to give them all the chances to let their creativity flourish. This can only happen through us adults as their facilitators. And that makes me proud!

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Many parents have told me that they would like me to guide their children with specific do’s and don’ts of the daily routine because I have a major influence on them. They listen to me more than their own parents! This makes me even more accountable to everything they do, say or feel. 

Recently, I’ve been teaching the kids about having a happy and healthy lifestyle and its impact on our well-being. But before getting into the details of this, I would like us all to understand what being healthy really means and what our well-being is all about.  Our well-being is the state of being happy, healthy and comfortable with our lifestyle and surroundings. How do we achieve that? And more importantly, how do we instill this very thought within our children? The thought of being content, happy, complete and pleased with wherever you are, with whatever you have…

As a teacher, I’ve noticed how flexible and open-minded children are. I deal with 7-year-olds and even though they do not exactly know the meaning of mental health or depression, they know precisely how to define happiness, and that is exactly what we need to keep our children’s mental health intact to develop a constructive future for them.

I’d like to share an in-class discussion that was recorded in the form of a virtual mind map. This was the starting point of our discussion about what our health and well-being is affected by. It is important to note here that every single point added in this mind map was stated by the students… which means, we are pretty much on the right track as far as our health is concerned.  

The above mind map clearly goes to show that life is pretty basic and simple. If the kids adhere to all these factors from a young age, it is certain that they will never have health issues, whether they’re mental or physical.

When my students were asked about why our health and well-being is so important, their responses amazed me. 

It might seem basic, but all of this came from the minds of 6-7 year olds. I was stunned when one of my students said, “When we are happy, we feel like visiting our family and friends.” I perceived this as the opposite of isolation. If you think of her statement in its exact opposite, what she was trying to say was that when we are unhappy or unhealthy, we don’t feel like socializing; and that’s where mental health comes in. So even though they don’t really know what isolation and loneliness is, they definitely understand the effect of a happy lifestyle on our minds and our bodies. 

When asked, “What makes you happy?”, I got the usual responses: “my family, friends, toys, going out, playing games, school, etc etc… There was one student who said, “Rain makes me happy.” How beautiful! How simple! I realized that it’s the simple things that matter most. The more we delve into unnatural things, the more complicated our life becomes. We start taking nature for granted.

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Teach your kids to appreciate the simplest things in life. Connect with them on an emotional basis. Encourage them to organize themselves from a young age. By organizing, I don’t mean just cupboards and shelves, rather manage their basic routine, like waking up on time, taking a shower every day, feeling fresh and maintaining cleanliness personally and for their surroundings too. Make them count their blessings. Let them be grateful for being able to live a new day, everyday. Take them out on a nature walk. Make them understand how lucky we are to be able to see four different seasons of nature. Ask them to look at the sky and observe how beautifully God has painted the clouds. Count the twinkling stars at night. Hear the chirping birds. Look at the different types of plants, animals, trees. All of nature’s beauty; because if nature doesn’t bring peace, then I am not really sure what does… 😊 

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Zara Razzaq is a dedicated elementary school teacher in a well-reputed school in Lahore, Pakistan. She is a good listener, a sincere friend and she loves to spend time with her family and friends. She is also a big foodie and loves trying and exploring new things.